10/12/2003
Press Release
SG/SM/9073
AFR/791



SECRETARY-GENERAL VERY CONCERNED ABOUT DISTURBANCES IN LIBERIA


FOLLOWING LAUNCH OF DISARMAMENT, DEMOBILIZATION PROGRAMME


The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:


The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) launched the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation programme for the estimated 40,000 Liberian combatants on 7 December 2003 with the opening of the cantonment site for former government soldiers and militia at Camp Scheiffelin, just outside Monrovia.


On the first day of the disarmament process, a very high number of combatants presented themselves for disarmament.  There were misunderstandings among the combatants about the benefits they were to receive.  As a result, there were disturbances at Camp Scheiffelin and in Monrovia, during which some combatants fired gunshots in the air, threatening the security of the surrounding population, as well as United Nations and humanitarian personnel.


The disturbances continued on 8 and 9 December.  While the situation appeared to improve after UNMIL met with the Defence Minister and the commanders of the former government forces and started paying the combatants an initial stipend, shooting was reported to have continued in Monrovia overnight.  The situation was reported quiet this morning.


The Secretary-General is very much concerned about these developments.  He wishes to stress that the leaders of the armed factions are responsible for the behaviour of their combatants and calls upon them to cooperate fully with UNMIL.  The Secretary-General also appeals to Member States to make available in a timely manner the troops pledged for UNMIL, in order to enable the Mission to create the necessary security environment in the country.


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