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This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Liberia: UN Report (excerpts)
Any links to other sites in this file from 1996 are not clickable,
given the difficulty in maintaining up-to-date links in old files.
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Liberia: UN Report (excerpts)
Date Distributed (ymd): 960129

Security Council S/1996/47, 23 January 1996
Fifteenth Progress Report of the Secretary-General on the
United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia


1. The present report is submitted in pursuance of Security
Council resolution 1014 (1995) of 15 September 1995, which
extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in
Liberia (UNOMIL) until 31 January 1996, and resolution 1020
(1995) of 10 November 1995, which adjusted the mandate of
UNOMIL. The report provides an update on developments in
Liberia since my report of 18 December 1995 (S/1995/1042), as
well as on the implementation of the new mandate of UNOMIL.


2. The period under review has been dominated by the question
of the disarmament and demobilization of combatants. The
Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group
(ECOMOG) began to deploy its troops to several regions of
Liberia for this purpose on 14 December 1995. UNOMIL began to
revise its own deployment accordingly. During the latter half
of December, extensive consultations were held between the
Council of State, my Special Representative, Mr. Anthony
Nyakyi, and the ECOMOG Field Commander, Major-General John
Inienger, with a view to facilitating this process. The
Chairman of the Council of State, Mr. Wilton Sankawulo, and
the Vice-Chairmen of the Council travelled extensively
throughout the country in order to explain the peace process
and to prepare combatants for disarmament and demobilization.
In addition, the faction leaders issued directives to their
combatants to cooperate with ECOMOG and UNOMIL in the
implementation of the Abuja Agreement (S/1995/742, annex).
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. Details of this incident are provided in
section III below.

3. The situation in Tubmanburg raised concerns that the
fighting might spread to other areas under the control of
ULIMO-J and derail the peace process. In order to avoid this,
the Council of State initiated immediate consultations with
ECOMOG and UNOMIL. A goodwill mission, composed of
representatives of the Liberian National Transitional
Government (LNTG), ULIMO-J and other factions, as well as
ECOMOG and UNOMIL, visited Bong Mines, Kakata and Todee on 4
January 1996. Similar visits to Tubmanburg have taken place
since then. UNOMIL has facilitated discussions among those
concerned on the evacuation of the wounded, the exchange of
prisoners and the bodies of those killed in the fighting, and
the delivery of emergency humanitarian relief.

4. Following the Tubmanburg incident, the Chairman of the
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President
Jerry J. Rawlings of Ghana, sent a delegation to Liberia on 5
January 1996. The delegation was headed by Captain Kojo
Tsikata, who was accompanied by the Chairman's Special
Representative for Liberia, Ambassador J. Gbeho, and the
Eminent Person of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) for
Liberia, Reverend Canaan Banana. My Special Representative
joined them in their meeting with the Council of State. The
delegation conveyed to the Council its concern over the
developments in Tubmanburg and urged it to continue its
collective efforts to avert a setback in the peace process.
The Council underscored the need for the early conclusion of
a status-of-forces agreement with ECOWAS to clarify the status
of ECOMOG in Liberia. The delegation assured the Council that
that issue would be brought to the attention of ECOWAS member
States, particularly the ECOMOG troop contributing countries.

5. On 6 January 1996, another delegation, led by the Chief of
Defence Staff of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Major-General
Abdulsalam Abubakar, visited Liberia and met with the Council
of State. The delegation, which included the Minister for
Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Chief Tom Ikimi, told UNOMIL 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.
Chief Ikimi expressed his deep concern over the delay in the
delivery of logistic resources pledged to ECOMOG and
emphasized the need for further international assistance in
this regard.

6. Since then, Mr. Roosevelt Johnson has called for the
exchange of prisoners and the replacement of the ECOMOG
contingent in Tubmanburg. He has indicated to my Special
Representative that he regards these issues as major obstacles
to the stabilization of the situation there. On 16 January,
the ULIMO-J Chief of Staff ordered his combatants in
Tubmanburg to release all civilians and any ECOMOG soldiers
held by them. He also ordered them to turn over to ECOMOG all
weapons and equipment seized during the incident. The ECOMOG
Force Commander has assured the ULIMO-J leadership that he
will release any ULIMO-J fighters held by ECOMOG once all
ECOMOG soldiers are released and those missing in action are
accounted for. ...


Status of the cease-fire and disengagement of forces

11. The fighting in Tubmanburg was the most serious cease-
fire violation since the signing of the Abuja Agreement on 19
August 1995. 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 between the Council of State, ECOMOG,
UNOMIL and ULIMO-J, fighting ceased on 4 January 1996. The
situation remains tense, however, and areas west of the Po
river bridge, as well as most of Bomi County, are still under
the control of ULIMO-J forces. All UNOMIL personnel deployed
to Tubmanburg were safely evacuated, with the assistance of
ECOMOG, by 30 December 1995. ...

12. The Tubmanburg incident can be traced to the deep-seated
suspicions between the two wings of ULIMO. The ULIMO-J
commander in the area has alleged that ECOMOG had sided with
the forces of Alhaji Kromah's wing (ULIMO-K) and arrested
unarmed ULIMO-J combatants. However, ECOMOG has reported that,
prior to the incident, ULIMO-J fighters in Tubmanburg
repeatedly violated the terms of the cease-fire, entered the
town with arms and harassed civilians.

13. ECOMOG has reported that it suffered 94 casualties (16
dead and 78 wounded) as a result of the Tubmanburg incident,
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. ...

17. No progress in the disengagement of forces has been
reported and, for the most part, fighters continue to occupy
their positions and maintain checkpoints. ...

Deployment of ECOMOG and UNOMIL

18. In accordance with the revised plans of ECOMOG and UNOMIL,
deployment was scheduled to be completed by 31 January 1996.
During the month of December, despite logistic and manpower
constraints, ECOMOG deployed contingents to Gbarnga (Bong
County), Greenville (Sinoe County), Suehn (Lofa County) and
Lofa Bridge (Bomi/Grand Cape Mount Counties). ... any further
deployment of ECOMOG has been suspended in the light of the
Tubmanburg incident. ...

19. The total military strength of UNOMIL is currently 82
observers out of the 160 authorized by the Security Council in
resolution 1020 (1995) ... Further deployment of UNOMIL, as
well as any further increase in its military strength, will
depend on the deployment of ECOMOG troops and on progress in
the peace process.


20. During the period under review, the ECOMOG Disarmament
Committee has continued to make arrangements for the
commencement of disarmament. Its work focused on the
harmonization of procedures and the collection of data from
the factions on their arms and ammunition, as well as on the
prisoners held by them.

21. Although NPFL and ULIMO have made some changes to their
respective assembly sites and have yet to propose alternative
locations, UNOMIL has carried out reconnaissance of most sites
so far designated. Rehabilitation of the facilities for
disarmament and demobilization will be undertaken as security
conditions permit. ...


24. UNOMIL has continued to monitor the human rights situation
in Liberia and to carry out investigations of major
violations. The fighting in Tubmanburg has had serious human
rights implications. While civilian casualties are as yet
undetermined, they are estimated to have been significant.
UNOMIL confirmed that, on 30 December 1995, ULIMO-J fighters
forced civilians out of the government hospital, where they
had taken refuge, and used them as human shields for their
positions in the town. As part of the same tactic, the
fighters generally prevented civilians from fleeing the town.
Also on 30 December, a mortar landed at the government
hospital, killing several civilians and injuring many more. ...


30. The humanitarian assistance community has continued its
efforts to reach previously inaccessible parts of the country.
The opening of some highways in the past few months has
permitted the provision of assistance to populations that had
been cut off for nearly three years. 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


34. While economic activity continues to increase, maintenance
of this trend will depend on the restoration of secure
conditions throughout the country. The opening of roads to the
northern and south-eastern regions has brought about a
perceptible increase in local produce in the markets of

35. A special consultation meeting of LNTG and its
international partners is scheduled to take place in March
1996 to address the recovery and reconstruction process. In
preparation for the meeting, a joint UNDP/World Bank mission
and an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission recently
visited Liberia. Several teams will be deployed shortly to
undertake rapid assessments of the education, food security,
health and information sectors, as well as infrastructure,
private sector, public administration and resettlement issues
in preparation for the meeting. A socio-economic assessment of
displaced persons and returnees will also be undertaken.


39. As of 15 January 1996, unpaid assessed contributions to
the UNOMIL special account since its inception amounted to
$7.7 million. The total of outstanding assessed contributions
for all peace-keeping operations on 15 January 1996 was $1,703

40. With regard to the Trust Fund for Liberia, as of 15
January 1996, contributions totalling some $24 million had
been received and expenditures of some $21.9 million had been


41. Recent events in Liberia have caused serious concern and
have regrettably delayed the implementation of the Abuja
Agreement further. ECOMOG has suffered as a result of the
recent attacks on its troops. I extend my condolences to the
troop-contributing countries and to the families of the ECOMOG
soldiers who were killed or wounded in the fulfilment of their
peace-keeping duties, as well as to the families of innocent
civilians who lost their lives.

42. 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. 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 Abuja

43. LNTG has stressed that ex-combatants must be provided
opportunities to enable them to reintegrate successfully into
civilian society. It is fully recognized that the success of
the demobilization process will depend on whether ex-
combatants can find ways of sustaining 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 for
reintegration projects, as well as on private investment to
revitalize the economic sector. It is not likely, however,
that such support will be forthcoming unless a safe and secure
environment can be established throughout the country. This
depends, in turn, on the successful disarmament of combatants.

44. The schedule of implementation attached to the Abuja
Agreement (S/1995/742, appendix) called for the disengagement
of forces to be completed by 26 September and for disarmament
to commence on 1 December 1995. As indicated in my earlier
reports, this timetable underestimated the delays and
obstacles involved in ensuring that combatants are fully
prepared to participate in the disarmament and demobilization
process and in deploying the personnel and equipment necessary
to carry out this complex process. The fighting in Tubmanburg
and subsequent developments have shown that the causes for
delay have become more serious and that they can be overcome
only if the faction leaders are truly determined to proceed
with the peace process. They should bear in mind that ECOWAS
and the international community cannot be expected to support
the peace process in Liberia indefinitely, in the absence of
a clear political will on their part to abide by and implement
the commitments they freely entered into.

45. Notwithstanding the recent setbacks described in the
present report, I recommend that the Security Council consider
the extension of UNOMIL for a period of four months, until 31
May 1996, at which point the situation can be reviewed,
keeping in mind that, under the Abuja Agreement, the elections
are scheduled to be held before the end of August 1996. During
this period, I expect LNTG and faction leaders to provide
their full cooperation to ECOMOG and UNOMIL in stabilizing the
situation and in vigorously moving ahead with the
implementation of the Abuja Agreement. I intend to keep the
Security Council regularly informed of relevant developments
in this regard and to submit a progress report by the end of
March 1996. I also call on the international community to
reconsider urgently its current level of support to ECOMOG and
to ensure that the necessary logistic assistance is provided
to enable the force to carry out its demanding

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