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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
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Liberia: Recent Documents, 2
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Liberia: Recent Documents, 2
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 preceding one include several recent
statements and background documents, from the Africa Faith and
Justice Network, InterAction, the U.S. Congress, and other
Letter to President Clinton
From Senators Russell D. Feingold, Carol Moseley-Braun,
Patrick J. Leahy, Paul Simon, Diane Feinstein and
Representative Donald Payne
May 23, 1996
President William J. Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We wish to express our deep concern about the recent
tragic developments in Liberia and our belief that a new,
bolder approach is needed from the United States and the
We have strongly supported the role of the ECOMOG forces
since their initial deployment. Given the most recent
fighting, however, it appears that the West African
peacekeeping operation does not have the adequate resources or
capabilities to restore security to this war-torn country. In
the absence of a strong peacekeeping force, the major factions
have engaged in actions that seriously violate the terms of
the Abuja Accord, signed on Aug. 19, 1995. Demobilization
efforts have been unable to proceed as scheduled, and major
armed conflict has returned to Monrovia.
We believe that a long-term resolution of conflict in
Liberia cannot be effectively realized without the strong
involvement of the international community and the United
Nations. We, therefore, urge you to propose and advocate
among the other members of the U.N. Security Council the
augmentation of the existing U.N. mission into a peacekeeping
force to be sent to Liberia as soon as possible. The force,
which should be drawn from interested African states,
including troops from existing ECOMOG forces, should be placed
under the authority of the United Nations. The United States
can play a role in providing appropriate transportation and
In our view, the presence of a more robust U.N. force
could bring about a cessation of the current round of fighting
and could help create an environment in which humanitarian
assistance, demobilization and implementation of the political
transition process outlined in the Abuja agreement can resume.
The United States has a long an unique relationship with
Liberia and her people. For this reason, we have a
responsibility to take the lead in helping formulate ways to
address this tragic situation. Continued hostilities in the
country will only add to the humanitarian disaster and lead to
increased regional instability. Accordingly, we have a
compelling national interest to take a more active role in
Russell D. Feingold
Patrick J. Leahy
Note: Senators Feingold and Feinstein are members of the
African Affairs Subcommittee, Senate Foreign Relations
Committee. Senator Simon is a former chair of that
subcommittee. Representative Payne is Chairman of the
Congressional Black Caucus, and a member of the Africa
Subcommitte, House International Relations Committee. Senator
Moseley-Braun is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
OFDA Fact Sheet # 22 Liberia
U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
BUREAU FOR HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE (BHR)
OFFICE OF U.S. FOREIGN DISASTER ASSISTANCE (OFDA)
LIBERIA - Complex Emergency
Fact Sheet # 22 May 23, 1996 1700 EDT
Background: On April 6, 1996, fighting in Monrovia erupted
between two armed factions, Charles Taylor's National
Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) and Roosevelt Johnson's wing
of the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia
(ULIMO-Krahn). Other Krahn factions subsequently joined
Johnson. The fighting came in the wake of skirmishes that
followed the signing of the Abuja Accord, a comprehensive
peace agreement among leaders of the main warring factions, on
August 19, 1995. The accord came after nearly six years of
civil war, in which more than 150,000 Liberians died, about
740,000 fled the country as refugees, and 800,000 became
USAID/BHR/OFDA's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART)
reports that fighting took place outside the U.S. Embassy on
May 18, 20, and 21. USAID/DART visited the port on May 23 and
discovered that twenty-six rolls of plastic shelter material
procured by BHR/OFDA were missing. In general, fighting and
a lack of unimpeded access, including travel restrictions at
bridges and other checkpoints, have isolated areas of Monrovia
from humanitarian relief personnel, supplies, and food. The
World Food Program (WFP) reports that approximately 570,000
displaced have congregated on Bushrod Island attempting to
find a safe haven in warehouses, schools, and near Economic
Community of West African States Military Observer Group
Current Humanitarian Situation: The fighting has displaced at
least 80,000 people in the Monrovia area, with 18,000 - 20,000
now seeking shelter in the Greystone compound of the U.S.
Embassy since fighting began again on April 29. Intermittent
fighting in the Mamba Point area disrupts the daily delivery
of chlorinated drinking water to Greystone. On May 20,
USAID/DART, U.N. agencies, non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), and Liberian officials attended a water and sanitation
coordination meeting at the U.N. Riverview compound. Water
supply to Bushrod Island is insufficient due to a mechanical
breakdown at the White Plains water facility. The facility
only has the capacity to pump water every other day because
one of the two diesel engines in the plant is not functioning.
The European Union has ordered another engine, but expects
delivery to take six weeks. On May 23, USAID/DART assessed
conditions at the Greystone compound. Approximately 25
patients are currently being treated in the suspected cholera
unit established by Medecins Sans Frontieres International
(MSF/I) and Action Contre la Faim (ACF). The number of
severe diarrheal disease cases admitted to the unit continues
to decrease. Security problems in the past few days have
halted an ACF measles vaccination campaign. From May 17 - 23,
USAID/Liberia, the Liberian Red Cross, and Liberian WFP staff
distributed nearly 65 metric tons (MT) of food, a two-week
supply, to vulnerable populations in Greystone. WFP and the
U.S. Embassy have delivered approximately 2,950 MT of food in
Monrovia and surrounding areas since April 10.
On May 13, a medical team consisting of MSF/I and MERCI, a
Liberian NGO, entered the Barclay Training Center (BTC) where
approximately 15,000 - 20,000 people took refuge when fighting
began on April 6, including armed members of ULIMO-Krahn, and
the Armed Forces of Liberia, a contending faction. Due to
security conditions, this was the first time humanitarian
organizations had been able to assess the situation at BTC
since April 22. Sanitary conditions are deplorable, with
septic tanks broken and sewage flowing between buildings. A
total of 18 patients were in need of immediate surgery with
three reported to be in very critical condition. There is
also a measles outbreak. MSF/I staff members had hoped to
begin a measles vaccination campaign but thus far have not
been able to return to the BTC due to security problems.
Over 1,550 refugees who fled Liberia on May 5 in a Nigerian
vessel, the Bulk Challenger, disembarked at Takoradi, Ghana,
on May 13. The U.S. Embassy in Ghana is working with the
Ghanaian government, the U. N. High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR), and a consortium of NGOs to coordinate assistance.
USAID/OFDA released $25,000 in emergency funds to the U.S.
Embassy to provide food, water, fuel, and shelter for the
refugees. The State Department's Bureau of Population,
Refugees, and Migration also pledged an additional one million
dollars to UNHCR for Liberian refugees.
U.S. Government (USG) FY 1996 Humanitarian Assistance:
Total OFDA Assistance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Other USG Assistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
TOTAL USG FY 1996 Humanitarian Assistance (to date).
- End --
These and other OFDA reports can be found on the USAID gopher
BOUTROS-GHALI WORRIED THAT ECOWAS WILL WITHDRAW FROM LIBERIA
By Judy Aita
USIA United Nations Correspondent
UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali is
concerned that continued fighting among the Liberian factions
will lead the West African countries (ECOWAS) to withdraw
their peacekeeping forces and ultimately force the U.N.
military observers and international humanitarian aid workers
also to leave the country.
In a report to the Security Council May 23, the secretary
general pointed out that the ECOWAS foreign ministers have
warned the faction leaders that if they did not return to the
Abuja peace process -- especially taking the steps necessary
to restoring basic law and order in Monrovia and engaging in
genuine negotiations -- the ministers would reconsider their
six-year involvement in the country at their August summit.
"Should ECOWAS be compelled to take the decision to disengage
from Liberia and withdraw ECOMOG (Economic Community of West
African States Monitoring Group), the U.N. Observer Mission in
Liberia would have no choice but to do the same,"
The unarmed U.N. observers are dependent on the security
provided by the ECOMOG forces to do their jobs.
The secretary general "is very, very worried that ECOWAS will
decide that it can't do anything further and will wash its
hands of the situation," said U.N. spokeswoman Sylvana Foa.
"If ECOWAS does decide it is fed up and they decide to
withdraw the ECOMOG forces from Liberia, we would consider
this to be catastrophic not only for the country, but for the
whole sub-region," Foa said.
Of UNOMIL's 93 military observers, only 10 remain on stand-by
in Freetown ready to return to Monrovia as soon as conditions
permit. Another five observers, including the chief military
observer, are in Monrovia to support political efforts to get
The secretary general said the situation is still "dangerous
and unpredictable" and he "strongly urged" the Liberian
factions "to consider carefully the wide-ranging consequences
that their actions during the next two months will have."
"Over the past six weeks, the faction leaders have clearly
demonstrated their disregard for the aspirations of the
Liberian people for peace. They have shown wanton disrespect
for the United Nations, ECOWAS, and the international
community," Boutros-Ghali said.
During the intense fighting in April, U.N. staff members were
forced from their homes and offices and robbed and harassed
while seeking safety. Vehicles were hijacked. UNOMIL and all
U.N. agencies have been "systematically looted by fighters
from all factions since April 6," he reported.
"The fighters cleaned out all United Nations offices, damaged
buildings and looted United Nations warehouses. Some 80
percent of UNOMIL vehicles were taken and many were
destroyed....UNOMIL telephones, computers, photocopiers,
communications equipment and general consumable items
including goods related to demobilization, were all looted,"
The U.N. is currently estimating the value of the loss, but it
has estimated that at least three months will be needed to
rebuild UNOMIL's logistic base.
The Security Council has to decide by the end of May whether
to extend UNOMIL's mandate. Boutros-Ghali recommended that
UNOMIL be continued for three months. His further
recommendations on the future of the mission will depend on
the outcome of the ECOWAS meeting in August. NNNN
USIA news reports on Africa can be found on the USIA gopher
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