Military

Liberia's peace process is 'firmly on track,' UN envoy tells Security Council

3 June 2004 The once-volatile situation in Liberia has calmed and security is being restored to the West African country, the head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission there (UNMIL) told the Security Council today.

"The peace process is now firmly on track and irreversible," said Jacques Paul Klein. "UNMIL troops deployments have significantly stabilized the country and the disarmament of combatants is making steady progress."

Mr. Klein said that 70 per cent of the estimated 53,000 combatants had given up their weapons. Of these 13 per cent were children and 18 per cent were women.

At the same time, he noted that some heavy weapons were not being turned in and only 82 people had identified themselves as foreign fighters. "Ensuring complete weapons hand-over remains a priority," he stressed.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and its partners are working to help 7,000 child ex-fighters in Liberia, Mr. Klein said.

Also today, the Chairman of Liberia's National Transitional Government, Gyude Bryant, addressed the Council on the sanctions against the country.

Chairman Bryant pledged that whenever sanctions were lifted on Liberia's diamonds, it would impose a temporary and voluntary embargo on the diamond trade until the country was certified under the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which was designed by Southern African diamond-producing countries in 2000 to eliminate sales of rough diamonds to finance armed conflicts.

On the timber industry, he said forest resources and benefits would go to local logging communities to be used for education, training, health and sanitation, as well as infrastructure building and maintenance.

"We have encouraged the establishment of oversight committees and institutions for monitoring effective sustainable forest management practices, community involvement and environmental impact assessments," he added.

A report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan before the Council notes Liberia's intention to join the Kimberley process, but cautions that the country will face difficulties in extending its authority over all of its timber-producing areas.

The Government's capacity to control logging areas has been enhanced by the continued deployment of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on land and in the air, according to the report. UNMIL has moved into such areas as Buchanan, Greenville and Zwedru, but the Government has been unable to staff offices in those areas.



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