Liberia

Liberia: Refocus on Liberia, says ActionAid

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ABIDJAN, 20 February (IRIN) - The resumption of armed conflict in Liberia warrants the renewed attention of the international community, a British development charity said on Wednesday, urging the United States to take the lead role in solving the crisis.
ActionAid, one of the UK's largest international development agencies, said the international community needed to intervene in the conflict between Liberia's national army and the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebel movement, which has resumed since early February and has caused new population displacement.

The Liberian army and the LURD have been fighting since 1999. The conflict varies in intensity, with bouts of fighting followed by periods of apparent calm.

For Action Aid, the urgency of an international intervention resided in the impact the conflict could have on its immediate neighbours and the region as a whole. The Liberian conflict could complicate the current war in neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire, while fragilising the nascent peace in Sierra Leone. ActionAid's programme manager, James Logan, said that conflict in Liberia fuelled troubles in other West African countries. "There is no peace in West Africa while there is war in Liberia," he said.

According to the agency, a lead role towards resolving the crisis should be taken by one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council: the United States. The US should use its influence as an influential member of the UN and a member of the International Contact Group for Liberia to bring an end to the fighting and promote a democratic settlement.

"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 resolve the crisis in Liberia," Logan said in Monrovia, Liberia's capital.

Since early February, fighting has taken place in several Liberian towns, some of them fairly close to Monrovia.

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