news analysis advocacy
AfricaFocus Bookshop
New Gift CDs
China & Africa
tips on searching

Search AfricaFocus and 9 Partner Sites

 

 

Visit the AfricaFocus
Country Pages

Algeria
Angola
Benin
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cameroon
Cape Verde
Central Afr. Rep.
Chad
Comoros
Congo (Brazzaville)
Congo (Kinshasa)
Côte d'Ivoire
Djibouti
Egypt
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Ethiopia
Gabon
Gambia
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Kenya
Lesotho
Liberia
Libya
Madagascar
Malawi
Mali
Mauritania
Mauritius
Morocco
Mozambique
Namibia
Niger
Nigeria
Rwanda
São Tomé
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Somalia
South Africa
South Sudan
Sudan
Swaziland
Tanzania
Togo
Tunisia
Uganda
Western Sahara
Zambia
Zimbabwe

Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail!

Print this page

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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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: Recent Documents, 1
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.
However, we hope they may still provide leads for your research.
Liberia: Recent Documents, 1
Date Distributed (ymd): 960527

While attention to the Liberian crisis in the news media has
diminished, repeated outbreaks of violence continue and the
desperate humanitarian situation has not eased. While
discussion continues on the appropriate form of greater
international involvement, there is wide consensus among those
concerned that the response to date has been inadequate, and
that U.S. leadership will be essential if there is to be more
effective international involvement.

This posting and the next include several recent statements
and background documents, from the Africa Faith and Justice
Network, InterAction, the U.S. Congress, and other sources.

************************************************************
Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN)
401 Michigan Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20017
Phone: (202)832-3412 Fax: (202) 832-9051
E-mail: afjn@igc.org

ACTION ALERT ON LIBERIA

Urgent Action Now
May 9, 1996

In light of pending legislation in the US Senate and Hearings
in the US House of Representatives, AFJN urges its members to:

A. Write and/or call your Representative and ask him/her to
introduce a House Resolution which will seek to achieve the
following:

1. Cessation of hostilities, return of safe haven status to
Monrovia, Buchanan and Kakata, withdrawal of warring factions
to territories they occupied prior to the signing of the Abuja
Accord and adherence by the warring factions to the terms of
the peace accord;

2. Adequate funding and logistical support for ECOMOG to be
able to enforce the Liberian peace accord;

3. Enforcement of UN 1992 Arms embargo on Liberia as well as
the enforcement of 1992 UN economic sanctions on territories
controlled by warring factions;

4. Political and diplomatic support for ECOWAS efforts to end
the Liberian war;

5. Asylum for Liberians currently resident in the United
States who can not return home due to the war conditions.

B. Ask your senators to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 248
(S.RES.248) and to seek an amendment in the language which
will leave out "Non-Nigerian" in its language as contained in
Section 4 a and b.

Please feel free to call us at AFJN in case you need further
information. (Copies of the S.Res.248 testimonies are
available at AFJN upon request.)

Addresses:

Representative, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington,
D.C. 20515

Senator, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510
U.S. Capitol switchboard: 202 224 3121

Background

U.S. House of Representatives on Liberia

The Subcommittee on Africa of the International Relations
Committee of the United States House of Representative held
hearings on Liberia on May 8, 1996. The hearings, which were
presided over by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R.Fl), heard testimony
from Hon. George Moose, Assistant Secretary for African
Affairs, Department of State, Hon. Vince Kern, Deputy
Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, International
Security Affairs, Department of Defense and Lady Johne Bush,
President, Liberia Community Association of Rhode Island.

Testimony of Assistant Secretary of State In his testimony,
Mr. Moose stated that the United States Government "considers
the Abuja Accord -- an interim government, disarmament,
demobilization and the holding of free and fair elections ---
the best framework for a permanent solution", to the Liberian
crisis. According to him, "Despite its current difficulties,
we believe ECOMOG can again become an effective peacekeeping
force." Mr. Moose also reiterated the U.S. condemnation of the
current fighting and stated that the U.S. Administration "now
know faction leaders did not wholeheartedly commit themselves
to the peace process but apparently pursued multiple
strategies -- one for peace, the other for war."

The Assistant Secretary of State also stated that "Another
significant factor" which contributed to the renewal of
conflict "was that overall support for the peace process,
including support for ECOMOG, was slow in coming and has not
been at the level we had hoped would be committed."

Mr. Moose noted current U.S. diplomatic activities in light of
the Easter outbreak of continued war in Liberia and explained
U.S. role in pressuring the various warring factions in
ensuring that "the situation in Monrovia ... be stabilized.
Fighters ... withdraw from the capital and Monrovia ...once
again become a safe haven. Faction leaders ... agree to
abandon violence in favor of a political process for settling
differences."

Mr. Moose said that the United States "will continue ...
vigorous support for ECOWAS' efforts to achieve a negotiated
solution to the current crisis and to reaffirm a peace process
which encompasses disarmament, demobilization and the holding
of free, fair and democratic elections." According to him,
"ending arms flows into Liberia remains critical to halting
the current fighting" and the United States is "pressing for
tougher enforcement of the 1992 UN arms embargo and" is
"asking other countries to join ... in this effort."

According to Moose the U.S. is "looking at ways to increase
... support for ECOMOG." He said that "If ECOMOG can
demonstrate a renewed capacity to play a neutral and effective
peacekeeping role," the U.S. "would be prepared to make
available approximately $30 million form existing resources in
equipment and other additional assistance." Moose said that
"although some ECOMOG troops failed to do their duty during
the recent fighting and may have participated in the looting,
others performed commendably." He noted that "more than 100
ECOMOG soldiers have died in the past three weeks in Liberia
defending the capital." Chairperson of Africa Subcommittee
Remarks

In opening remarks, Chairperson, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen pointed
out that "The people of Liberia desperately want peace; yet it
is the faction leaders who repeatedly choose to pursue their
political objectives through violent means with a total
disregard for the suffering inflicted on their fellow
Liberians." She further stated that "The people of Liberia
want a cease-fire and a return to normalcy." According to her
"The people of Liberia want to see their country flourish once
again." Ms. Ros-Lehtinen then said that "The U.S. and the
international community are ready and willing to help, but
only if there is a demonstrable commitment to the peace
process and to a cease-fire."

...And What About Nigeria and the U.S. Senate

Meanwhile, several US Senators introduced Senate Resolution
248 towards the end of April. Senate Resolution 248
(April 22 Version) is a welcome starting point for the
Congress to complement the Administration efforts in assisting
the Liberian people achieve peace. However, the language of
the bill creates problems when it states as part of its
Resolve to "...support non-Nigerian West African
peacekeepers," or "...training for crowd control techniques
for non-Nigerian troops to participate effectively in a West
African Peacekeeping force." (Section 4 a, b of S. Res. 248)

Certainly, the concern of Senators Feingold, Kassebaum, Simon,
Leahy, Jeffords and Pell, co-sponsors of S. Res. 248, about
the Nigerian role in ECOMOG is well intentioned. However,
realistically speaking, there is no way ECOMOG can be
effective without Nigeria's involvement. About eight out of
every ten ECOMOG peacekeepers in Liberia are Nigerian. No
other African country has expressed willingness to supplant
ECOMOG if Nigeria decides to withdraw.

Additionally, Nigeria has been dominantly involved since
August 1990, when ECOMOG intervened following the refusal of
the United States to intervene militarily in Liberia to halt
the slaughter of 150,000 Liberians.

According to Nigerian sources about $4 billion has been spent
by the Nigerian government on its peacekeeping activities in
Liberia. To now think that Nigeria can be done away with and
still have an effective ECOMOG presence in Liberia in the
absence of any other country in the world to replace it, is
not only wishful thinking but a recipe which would condemn the
rest of Liberians in the country to certain death. That must
not be allowed to happen.

The penchant to punish Nigeria for its gruesome violation of
human rights must not and should not be visited upon the
Liberian people who have already suffered enormously. No other
current war in the world has resulted in the level of
destruction Liberia has known in the last six years. Almost
every single Liberian no longer lives in the home s/he lived
in prior to the war in December 1989. More than 200,000
Liberians out of a population of 2.3 million have died. A
further 700,000 continue to live in wretched conditions as
refugees, notably in Guinea and other African countries.
Thousands upon thousands more are venturing out to sea to
escape the mayhem which has befallen their dear country. They
have been refused entry into such places as Cote d'Ivoire,
where only a few days ago a fishing vessel carrying Liberian
refugees was turned away. In the past the Ivorians welcomed
Liberians as refugees. More than 300,000 Liberians already
live in Cote d'Ivoire as refugees.

Several reports suggest that Nigerian members of the
peacekeepers have been engaged in looting. However, none of
them said that the looting was initiated by the Nigerians. All
of the reports appear to suggest that the looting was started
by the Liberian armed militia. Can anyone confidently say that
no other peacekeepers in Liberia have looted except the
Nigerians? Peacekeepers around the world are known to engage
in rogue behavior. The setting up of brothels by U.N.
peacekeepers in the former Yugoslavia or the brutality
committed by Canadian peacekeepers against Somalis in Somalia
are a few cases in point.

ECOMOG weaknesses as were manifested in looting, the sale of
weapons to various warring factions should not be viewed as
obstacles. Instead attempts should be made to strengthen and
discipline ECOMOG forces. These could include but not be
limited to the following:

 - morale boosting measures such as the updating of their
salaries arrears and perhaps even bonuses for good performance
and behavior;
- the provision of logistics to enable them to carry out their
mission;
- the provision of medical facilities so peacekeepers would
not helplessly watch as their comrades lives ebb away;
- provision of adequate housing so that they would not be
exposed to the elements.

At the same time mechanisms should be established which would
ensure that provisions made available to ECOMOG are used
strictly for the purpose of peacekeeping activities. Such a
mechanism could include participation from ECOWAS, UNOMIL, the
transitional government and the United States Embassy in
Monrovia. This will ensure accountability, if the fear of not
involving Nigerians is centered around the issue of
accountability.

Conclusion

It would be wise that support for ECOMOG does not translate
into further stagnation of the Liberian peace process. Time
has already run out. To salvage whatever is left of the
current peace accord, all steps taken must be done so with
urgency.

*************************************************************
InterAction News Release

American Council for Voluntary International Action
1717 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 801
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 667-8227
E-mail: ia@interaction.org

RELEASE DATE: 17 MAY 1996 CONTACT: MIKE KIERNAN, EXT. 132

IN RESPONSE TO THE GROWING CRISIS IN LIBERIA, 14 US
HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES CALL FOR THE CREATION OF A UNITED
NATIONS PEACEKEEPING FORCE

The prolonged crisis in Liberia has forced nearly a third of
the country's population to flee their homes and seek refuge
abroad. An additional 40 percent of the population has become
internally displaced within Liberia, dependent on others for
their survival. The nation's infrastructure is in ruins.
Hundreds of thousands of children are unschooled and tens of
thousands have been transformed by the warlords into "boy
soldiers."

The most recent fighting has brought the conflict into
Monrovia, resulting in a total breakdown of law and order.
Relief agencies and international organizations, which have
been providing essential humanitarian services for the
majority of the capital's citizens, were forced to leave
Liberia. With their offices looted, their vehicles stolen and
the lives of their staff at risk in the continuing chaos, it
is not clear what assistance they will be able to provide.
Relief activities in the countryside also have been disrupted
by the spreading conflict.

Years of negotiations have failed to resolve the conflict
among Liberia's warlords. The pleas of the Liberian people for
peace continue to be ignored by those leading the various
armed factions.

In order to bring an end to suffering of the Liberian people,
the undersigned agencies urge:

o That the United States government recommend to other members
of the United Nations Security Council the formation of a
United Nations peacekeeping force which would be sent to
Liberia as soon as possible. The goal of this operation would
be to restore security so that conditions can be created that
make possible (1) the resumption of humanitarian assistance,
(2) the demobilization of combatants, and (3) a political
process which will lead to free and fair election of a
government of national unity.

o That the U.S. government take the initiative to see that,
while units from other peacekeeping-force contributors are
being mobilized, the ECOMOG units on the ground in Liberia be
brought under the authority of the United Nations. After
consultation with ECOWAS, the high command of ECOMOG would be
replaced by personnel appointed by the United Nations Security
Council. Once under United Nations command, ECOMOG would
receive equipment, training and other services provided by
donor countries through a fund designated by the United
Nations solely for supporting U.N. security operations in
Liberia.

o That those West African governments which have provided
refuge to almost a million Liberians be commended and
encouraged by the U.S. government to maintain open borders for
Liberians fleeing their country by whatever means. Particular
attention should be paid at this time to the urgent
humanitarian needs of persons fleeing violence by sea.

o That the international community be encouraged by the U.S.
government to provide more generous support to those West
African governments assisting Liberian refugees. The U.S.
government should increase its own level of support to those
governments.

o That political aspects of the peace process be addressed at
a senior level by the U.S. government as acceptable levels of
security are achieved by the U.N. Peacekeeping Force in
Liberia. It is clear that Liberians and the international
community have grave doubts about the viability of the
transitional power-sharing arrangement that was created by the
Abuja Accords. Nevertheless, it is recognized that the
cooperation of the warring factions would be a component of a
successful peace process. With this consideration in mind, the
U.S. government is urged to ensure that the United Nations
permits a role for the Transitional Government created by the
Abuja Accords, only if the warring factions participate in a
comprehensive demobilization program.

o That the U.S. government take the lead in seeing that the
donor community provides sufficient funds for a serious
disarmament and demobilization program which will offer
combatants the prospect of successful reintegration into
civilian life.

o That the U.S. government, in conjunction with the United
Nations Security Council, take vigorous steps to see that
nations in the West African region and elsewhere comply with
the existing United Nations arms embargo on Liberia.

o That the United States naval vessels currently off Monrovia,
or replacements with similar capabilities, remain on station
off Liberia.
--------------------------
Adventist Development and Relief Agency International,
Africare, American Refugee Committee, CARE, Church World
Service, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Friends of Liberia,
International Rescue Committee, Refugees International,
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Trickle Up Program,
United Methodist Committee on Relief, World Relief, World
Vision US

-- end --

Interaction, a membership association of more than 150 U.S.
non- profit organizations, is the nation's leading advocate
for international humanitarian efforts including relief,
development, refugee assistance, environment, population, and
global educuation.

************************************************************
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Washington Office on Africa (WOA), a not-for-profit church,
trade union and  civil rights group supported organization
that works with Congress on Africa-related legislation. WOA's
educational affiliate is the Africa Policy Information Center
(APIC).

************************************************************

URL for this file: http://www.africafocus.org/docs96/lib9605.1.php