Monrovia (Fides Service) - The United Nations Organisation has promised to collect all the weapons from the hands of civilians in Monrovia, capital of Liberia. “The UN leaders promised to make Monrovia a weapon free city in 72 hours” Fr Mauro Armanino, Provincial Superior of the Society of African Missions, tells Fides from the Liberian capital. “But people are sceptical about the success of the plan: they say the arms will be hidden in a safe place only to be pulled out again when necessary”.
The UN is presently deploying a peacekeeping force of 15,000 men in Liberia to monitor the peace process after years of civil war. The missionary says however “it will take time for UN troops to reach the whole country. So far they have not gone much further than Monrovia. Consequently humanitarian organisations have difficulty in operating in the most remote areas of Liberia where the security of humanitarian workers is not guaranteed.”
A new element of uncertainty is a reported split in the LURD rebel group, (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) which, with MODEL (Movement for Democracy in Liberia), is one of the largest rebel groups opposing the government. “Fragmentary information says LURD has split into at least two groups and perhaps more” says Father Armanino “there is talk of a break between the political and military components of the movements but in actual fact neither LURD or MODEL have any political programme. Both groups are formed of people interested only in raiding the country and the split is due to disputes over sharing the booty”. “However the split in LURD is causing concern among the civilians who fear the two sections may come to battle and that, as always, the people will be the ones who suffer” Father Armanino concludes. LM (Fides Service 8/10/2003 EM lines 28 Words: 338)