Violence continues in Liberia despite UN talks

Humanitarian aid efforts in Liberia are still being hampered by poor security, according to the United Nations.

Talks to establish the UN’s role in helping the country’s transitional government got underway yesterday in Monrovia, but there are fears that rebel attacks are continuing outside the capital.

Liberia has faced more than a decade of civil war, but the departure of former president Charles Taylor last month raised hopes that peace talks could progress.

But despite a ceasefire and the signing of an agreement that will allow the power-sharing interim authority to take over from newly-instated president Moses Blah in October, there is still great instability in the more rural parts of the country.

The situation is thought to be particularly grave in the North East and in the port city of Buchanan, where aid agencies have been unable to conduct any significant operations.

A 3,500-strong West African force is securing the country. And the UN’s envoy for Liberia, Jacques Paul Klein, has asked the Security Council to authorize the deployment of 15,000 troops and 900 international police officers as part of a UN peacekeeping mission.

The reports of continuing violence have increased the number of internally displaced persons, according to the UN.

But people seeking shelter in some of the IDP camps are unable to access aid.

The UN’s special humanitarian co-ordinator in the region, Ross Mountain, explained: “Ensuring the safety of civilians receiving assistance is particularly challenging. In some cases, where a permanent security presence is absent, IDPs have discouraged the distribution of food, out of fear of being attacked and looted by combatants, despite their acute food needs.”