Concerned at fighting in Liberia, Security Council members urge dialogue
In a statement to the press by the current President of the Council, Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, the members called on the Liberian Government to pursue all peaceful avenues towards ending the fighting inside the country, pointing to the severe humanitarian consequences of the violence. "Members of the Council encourage the Liberian authorities to continue efforts aimed at national reconciliation," he said, stressing the need for all human rights abuses to cease.
Looking to recent positive developments, the statement welcomed a meeting held earlier this week which brought together the Foreign Ministers of the Mano River Union countries - Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The members expressed hope that the initiative would broaden prospects for sustainable peace in the region. In addition, they encouraged the Mano River Union Women Peace Network and other civil society groups to "continue their useful effort to facilitate peace and dialogue" in the region.
The statement also addressed the humanitarian plight of the Liberian people, with Council members inviting the international community to continue providing assistance to those affected by the conflicts, and calling on donors to maintain commitments to providing aid to Liberia. Monrovia was called on to do its part, by allowing humanitarian agencies safe access. All parties were invited to create conditions for providing relief aid to refugees and displaced persons.
Prior to issuing its press statement, the Security Council met in closed consultations, hearing a briefing on the situation in Liberia by the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Danilo Turk, and by the UN Deputy Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs, Carolyn McAskie.
In his briefing, Mr. Turk noted the positive outcome of the Mano River Union meeting, at which the three countries agreed to take collective measures to curb the activities of armed groups operating in their sub-region.
Ms. McAskie told Council members that an estimated 34,000 people had been internally displaced by recent fighting between Government and rebel forces in northern Liberia, particularly in Lofa County. She also voiced her concern about the severe lack of funding that has undermined the ability of UN agencies and non-governmental organizations to provide basic assistance to the internally displaced persons and refugees in the West African sub-region, particularly in Liberia.