Liberia: Forgotten conflict where the US could help bring peace

ActionAid has today called for the international community to intervene in the renewed conflict between Liberian government forces and LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) rebels. The aid group warns that the crisis in Liberia could further destabilise its eastern neighbour Ivory Coast, and reignite rebel activity in Sierra Leone to the west.
Since the beginning of February at least 5,000 people have fled the renewed fighting in western Liberia. Hundreds of rural people have arrived in the capital, Monrovia. LURD forces have captured Tubmanburg, 60 km north of Monrovia, and at one point advanced to within 20km of the capital.

James Logan, ActionAid's programme manager in Liberia, says, "Liberia demands the urgent attention of the international community. The pattern is that when there is a crisis in Liberia, trouble flares in other countries of the region. There is no peace in West Africa while there is war in Liberia."

International efforts to bring peace and stability to Liberia have so far been unsuccessful. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) invited the two sides to talks in Mali, but LURD declined the invitation. The International Contact Group on Liberia, a group of countries which includes the United States, has said it is willing to broker a ceasefire, but has failed to bring one about.

In Liberia ActionAid is working with the Inter-Religious Council and other organisations committed to peace. ActionAid is now calling for an international effort to invigorate the stalled regional initiatives. Specifically ActionAid calls on the United States to use its influence as a member of the International Contact Group to bring an end to the fighting and promote a democratic settlement.

James Logan says, "What has propelled previous crises in the region to resolution has been the key role played by members of the UN Security Council. The United Kingdom took this role in Sierra Leone, and France has intervened in Ivory Coast. With its historical links to the country, the US has a comparable responsibility for helping to resolve the crisis in Liberia."