Liberia: Annan condemns fresh violence in Monrovia

Secretary-General Kofi Annan

25 June 2003 – In the wake of renewed fighting in Liberia, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned again any attempts to resolve political differences through armed violence and called on the parties to give splintered peace talks a chance to succeed.

A statement issued by a UN spokesperson in New York said the Secretary-General was deeply concerned by the renewed and intensified fighting between Government troops and rebel forces in the Liberian capital of Monrovia over the last 24 hours.

"This development constitutes a flagrant violation of the recently-concluded ceasefire agreement and casts a shadow on the [Economic Community of West African States] ECOWAS-facilitated peace talks in Accra which had raised high hopes for the peaceful settlement of the conflict," the statement said.

"The Secretary-General once again condemns any attempts to resolve political differences through armed violence," spokesperson Hua Jiang said, adding that Mr. Annan called on all the parties to cease hostilities immediately in order to give a chance to the peace negotiations and allow for the safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to Liberia's traumatized population.

"He also calls on the parties to refrain from any action that might further endanger the lives of the civilian population and to fully respect international humanitarian laws."

The spokesperson said that the Secretary-General reaffirmed the UN's support for the tireless efforts of the Chairman of ECOWAS and the Mediator to help restore peace and stability to Liberia and calls on the international community to continue to support those efforts.

Meanwhile, UN agencies inside Monrovia said that the intense fighting has shattered a week-old ceasefire. Shelling was reported in the city's centre, with one landing just 60 metres from the compound in which a UN team was staying.

Facing almost continuous harassment and persecution, thousands of internally displaced persons are moving from the west of Monrovia to the centre of the city. They have been robbed and raped and their camps looted. The UN reported that refugees from Sierra Leone residing in camps near Monrovia are now also being targeted for abuse because they are perceived to be supporting the rebels. A large number of people are reportedly gathering for safety near the United States embassy.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the scene also reported that the number of cholera cases has increased. Water and sanitation continue to be a major problem, especially at the national stadium where more than 70,000 people are still sheltered.

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