A United Nations mission led by the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Tuliameni Kalomoh, has arrived in Liberia to start a five-day assessment of the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the West African country.
Liberian Information Ministry officials told IRIN that the mission met President Charles Taylor and some government ministers on Monday morning in the capital, Monrovia. It would later meet UN, civil society and NGO representatives and visit an internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp.
Kalomoh is accompanied by by Modem Lawson Betum of the UN Political Affairs department and Maj. Fanwell Mwape of the UN Peace-keeping department. The UN team will be joined later this week by four representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU).
Kalomoh told reporters upon arrival on Sunday that the mission had been sent in response to an invitation by the Liberian government as part of international efforts to resolve the armed conflict in the country. "[We will] hold consultations with the government, political leaders and important stakeholders with the view to hearing from them [and] visit as many places we can," he said.
Kalomoh previously served as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Liberia in 1996. "There is a strong desire on the part of the UN and the West African sub-region for the attainment of peace in Liberia," he said.
Asked whether the UN had agreed to deploy an international stabilisation force in Liberia, Kalomoh responded: "It will be the Security Council that will make such decision".
Several political groups and civil society organisations in Liberia have called for the deployment of such a force to disarm all warring parties and create a more stable environment for presidential elections scheduled for October 14. Last week, the Ghanaian ambassador to Liberia, Kwame Amoa-Awua, who co-chairs a local contact group on Liberia, said that the government had agreed to the deployment of a peacekeping force. The government is yet to state its position.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Liberia (OCHA) said meanwhile in its monthly report for April that the government had agreed to negotiate an early cease-fire with the rebel movement Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).OCHA said the government had accepted Gen. Adbulsalami Abubakar, a former Nigerian Head of State, as the facilitator of a proposed meeting with the rebels in Accra, Ghana.
Kalomoh said that even though the UN had not established direct contacts with LURD, the International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL) had made done so.
The ICGL, made up France, Ghana (current ECOWAS President) Morocco, Nigeria, United Kingdom, United States, UN, ECOWAS, the European Union and the AU, was formed in July last year to help end the Liberian conflict, which threatens to destabilise neightouring countries too.
Meanwhile, military sources said armed men, believed to be LURD fighters, attacked Kpekor town near the Zwannah IDP camp, 20 km west of Monrovia, on Saturday morning, but were repelled by government forces.
On Friday, LURD recaptured the strategic road junction of Kley in Bomi county, 38 km west of Monrovia. It had been occupied by government troops since 5 April.
OCHA said the humanitarian community remained concerned about the plight of several hundred thousand displaced Liberians and refugees from other countries caught up in the Liberian conflict.
"Recent attacks on camps, apparently deliberately targeting the civilian population, have complicated already worsening protection concerns," OCHA said. "The result has been forced movement of persons out of some camps and into either host communities or already existing and overcrowded camps. Implementation of protection programmes in such instances is becoming increasingly difficult."
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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