3621st Meeting of Security Council: Situation in Liberia - Part 3

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25-Jan-1996 00:42:33
International Community must not make Liberia another orphan in the quest for peace, said Togolese representative at 3621st meeting.

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In a report on developments in Liberia since 18 December 1995 (documents S/1996/47 and Add.1), the Secretary-General recommends that the Council consider an extension of the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) for a period of four months, until 31 May. At that time, the situation will be reviewed, keeping in mind that, under the Abuja Agreement, elections are scheduled to be held before the end of August. During that period, the Secretary-General expects the Liberian National Transitional Government (LNTG) and the faction leaders in Liberia to cooperate with the Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) and UNOMIL in stabilizing the situation and in implementing the Agreement.

Should the Council decide to extend UNOMIL's mandate, the Secretary-General will seek the additional resources required from the General Assembly. The Assembly has authorized him to enter into commitments in the amount of $12,169,600 gross for UNOMIL for the period 1 February to 31 March, subject to the extension of its mandate by the Council. As of 15 January, unpaid assessed contributions to the UNOMIL special account since its inception amounted to $7.7 million. Contributions of about $24 million to the Trust Fund for Liberia, as of 15 January 1996, had been received, and expenditures of some $21.9 million had been authorized.

The Secretary-General's report was issued in pursuance of Council resolution 1014 (1995) which extended the mandate of UNOMIL until 31 January 1996, and resolution 1020 (1995) which adjusted the mandate. An addendum to the report contains a map of UNOMIL deployment as of 19 January.

The Secretary-General observes that recent events in Liberia have delayed the implementation of the Abuja Agreement further. The peace process is now at a critical juncture, and the full support of all concerned will be required to overcome the recent setbacks. The faction leaders must ensure that their forces effectively observe the cease-fire, disengage without further delay and provide the cooperation necessary to enable ECOMOG and UNOMIL to initiate disarmament and demobilization as soon as possible. The LNTG must provide its full support to these efforts and play an active role in ensuring that the Liberian factions extend the necessary cooperation to ECOMOG and UNOMIL. The international community, for its part, must provide the resources necessary to enable ECOMOG to fulfil its responsibilities effectively, since the continued lack of such support could jeopardize the implementation of the Agreement.

The success of the demobilization process will depend on whether ex-combatants can sustain themselves other than by use of the gun. The creation of such opportunities depends, in part, on the provision of funds by the donor community and on private investment. Such support will not be forthcoming, however, unless there is a safe and secure environment. This depends, in turn, on the successful disarmament of combatants.

The Abuja Agreement of 19 August 1995 addressed the composition of the Council of State and called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations to monitor the operations of the Ad Hoc Elections Commission. According to the Agreement, the disengagement of forces was to be completed by 26 September 1995 and for disarmament to commence on 1 December 1995. That timetable underestimated the delays and obstacles involved. The causes for delay have become more serious, and they can be overcome only if the faction leaders are determined to proceed with the peace process, bearing in mind that ECOWAS and the international community cannot be expected to support the peace process indefinitely.

The period under review has been dominated by the question of the disarmament and demobilization of combatants, the Secretary-General continues. However, the peace process suffered a setback when General Roosevelt Johnson's wing of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO-J) attacked ECOMOG in Tubmanburg on 28 December 1995. The Nigerian Foreign Minister said that the developments in Tubmanburg confirmed the risks ECOMOG had taken in deploying its troops without the strength and resources necessary to carry out its mandate effectively. He expressed concern over the delay in the delivery of logistic resources pledged to ECOMOG and emphasized the need for further international assistance in this regard.

According to the Secretary-General, while efforts to contain the situation are continuing, reports of fighting and looting of villages by ULIMO-J combatants in other parts of Liberia are still being received.

In its resolution 1020 (1995), the Security Council requested UNOMIL "to observe and verify the election process, in consultation with OAU and ECOWAS, including the legislative and presidential elections to be held in accordance with provisions of the peace agreements". In the report, the Secretary-General states his intention to appoint a Senior Electoral Officer who will follow the preparatory phases of the electoral process on a full-time basis. He will also send a technical mission to Liberia, which will consult LNTG, OAU and ECOWAS in drafting a framework for the observation and verification of the electoral process. Thereafter, the Secretary-General will submit further recommendations to the Security Council.

The fighting in Tubmanburg was the most serious cease-fire violation since the signing of the Abuja Agreement. It began on 28 December 1995, when ECOMOG positions in the town, as well as along the highway up to Kle, were attacked and overrun by ULIMO-J fighters. After lengthy consultations, fighting ceased on 4 January 1996, but the situation remains tense. All UNOMIL personnel deployed to Tubmanburg were evacuated by 30 December 1995. The ECOMOG has reported that it suffered 94 casualties (16 dead and 78 wounded), with an additional 10 soldiers reported missing in action. ECOMOG arms, ammunition and equipment were also seized by ULIMO-J. Civilian and ULIMO-J casualties are so far undetermined.

During the period under review, several additional cease-fire violations were reported. These included harassment of civilians, humanitarian workers and ECOMOG troops by combatants in other areas. There has been no progress in the disengagement of forces and fighters continue to occupy their positions and maintain checkpoints. The deployment of ECOMOG has been suspended in the light of the Tubmanburg incident.

The UNOMIL has continued to monitor the human rights situation in Liberia and carry out investigations of major violations. The fighting in Tubmanburg and Kle has had serious human rights implications.

The United Nations Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Office is engaged in designing programmes and activities that would lead to the reintegration of the demobilized. It is also focusing on the immediate requirement for concerted humanitarian action in response to the needs arising from the recent fighting. The humanitarian assistance community has continued its efforts to reach previously inaccessible parts of the country. Although relief convoys are generally escorted by unarmed factional representatives, poor communications between faction leaders and their fighters in the hinterland have impeded humanitarian assistance activities.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) held a regional conference in Monrovia in early December in preparation for the organized repatriation of the estimated 750,000 Liberian refugees. With increased security near the Guinean border in northern Liberia, some 7,000 Liberian refugees have crossed into Nimba County since the latter part of 1995. It is expected that the recent opening of some roads to the border counties, as well as the reconstruction by the World Food Programme (WFP) of the bridge linking north-eastern Liberia with Côte d'Ivoire, will further accelerate the voluntary return of refugees. While economic activity continues to increase, maintenance of this trend will depend on the restoration of secure conditions throughout the country.

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