Monday, 30 June 2003

Monrovia (Fides Service) – “After the cease fire announced by the rebels at the weekend, in Monrovia there is a situation of calm charged with tension” a local Missionary in Monrovia tells Fides Service. Monrovia has been the scene of heavy fighting between troops loyal to President Taylor and the LURD rebels (Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy). “Yesterday I went to the port area where combat had been intense, I found the situation quite calm. For the moment fighting has stopped but people are still afraid. Many have left their shelters and returned home, mainly for fear of sacking. In fact bands of looters roam the streets in total freedom.”
“The humanitarian situation is still serious, mainly because war affects mainly the poorest people and 85% of Liberians live below the poverty line.”
The Church is one of the few institutions which has stood by the people and one of the few independent voices left. “This is why the Church has been targeted - the missionary says - The Catholic Secretariat and a number of church buildings have been ferociously plundered. Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis has received threats, also over the radio”.
“All hopes are placed in the peacekeeping force which African countries should deploy soon” says the missionary.
Yesterday, 29 June in Nigeria, representatives of the Economic Community of West Africa, the ambassadors of the UN Security Council member countries, discussed the formation of a contingent of 5,000 men to send to Liberia to monitor the cease fire.
The Rome based S. Egidio Community, called to facilitate dialogue between the Liberian parties, has appealed to those involved to “find a political solution to the conflict to avoid any more bloodshed”. LM (Fides Service 30/6/2003 EM lines 28 Words: 306)