Global Policy Forum

UN Demands End to Aid for Rebels


By Edith M. Lederer

Associated Press
December 21, 2000

Strongly condemning recent rebel incursions into Guinea, the U.N. Security Council on Thursday urged all countries, but especially Liberia, to stop providing military support to rebel groups that are destabilizing the borders between Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Guinea's government has accused Liberia and Sierra Leonean rebels of responsibility for the cross-border attacks, and maintains that some of the 130,000 Liberian refugees and 330,000 Sierra Leoneans in the country are helping in the attacks.

In a meeting Saturday in Mali, 16 West African heads of state agreed to deploy troops along the borders between Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in a bid to prevent the entire region from sliding into instability. There was no agreement on size and the force likely will take at least a month to deploy. Secretary-General Lansana Kouyate of the regional group, known as ECOWAS, said it would have "a mandate which will allow it to impose peace."

The Security Council called for the agreement to be implemented fully and without delay. A statement read by council president Sergey Lavrov of Russia at a formal meeting asked Secretary-General Kofi Annan to consider what support the international community and the United Nations could provide to ECOWAS to ensure security on the border. It backed appeals by the West African leaders for an urgent meeting of the heads of state of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone under the auspices of ECOWAS and the Organization of African Unity.

"The Security Council expresses its deep concern over the fate of all those who continue to live in a state of insecurity, especially the local populations and the tens of thousands of refugees and displaced persons," the statement said.

The council on Wednesday circulated a report by a U.N.-appointed panel which investigated the link between the trade in arms and diamonds in Sierra Leone. The five-member panel said it had evidence that Liberian President Charles Taylor was involved in illegal diamond and arms trafficking with Sierra Leone's rebels, which has fueled the country's nine-year civil war. It called for an embargo on all diamonds from Liberia until it demonstrates that it is no longer involved in trafficking gems and arms. Taylor denied involvement in smuggling.

Sierra Leone's U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Kamara on Thursday read a statement from the government which appealed to the council "to give serious consideration to the panel's report as soon as possible."

More Information on Sierra Leone


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