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Subregional approach needed to end violence in West Africa: UN report

Subregional approach needed to end violence in West Africa: UN report

A mission to West Africa by United Nations agencies has recommended that the international community adopt an integrated subregional approach to prevent the further emergence of conflicts, restore peace and stability and promote economic and social development in the area, according to a report released today in New York.

The 32-page report, which Secretary-General Kofi Annan had submitted to the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, is based on the results of an assessment mission to 11 West African countries carried out by representatives from the UN Secretariat and several UN agencies and offices specializing in the issues of development, refugees, children, human rights and food security. Staff from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also took part in the mission, which visited the region from 6 to 27 March.

The inter-agency mission reports a widely shared view in the region that the situations in the Mano River Union countries, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau and the Casamance region of Senegal, were expected to deteriorate, with serious implications for the entire subregion, if steps were not taken to address the problems in a regional, rather than a national, perspective.

On the conflict along the borders between Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the mission underscores the importance of efforts by ECOWAS and the UN to promote reconciliation between the leaders of the three countries.

"Concern was expressed at the alleged involvement of State and non-State actors in providing support for the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone," the report states. "Several interlocutors were of the view that such support was being provided by Governments, both within and outside the subregion, and actors such as dealers in conflict diamonds, mercenaries and international arms dealers."

The 11 countries visited by the inter-agency mission are: Senegal, Nigeria, Togo, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, the Gambia and Mali.