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PRESS BRIEFING BY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR WEST AFRICA

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

24 March 2004

Tomorrow, the Secretary-General would present his report on ways to combat subregional and cross-border problems in West Africa, today’s guest at noon, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, told correspondents at a Headquarters press briefing today.

The Security Council meeting would be attended by an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation, which would include the Foreign Minister of Ghana and Executive Secretary of ECOWAS. Also participating in the meeting would be the Minister for Development Cooperation of Francophonie.

Among the main cross-border problems, he mentioned small-arms smuggling, child soldiers and mercenaries. While not the cause of instability, those issues contributed to the suffering of the population and the deterioration of the economic and social situation in the region. The Secretary-General was expected to remind the participants of the meeting of the importance of a harmonized and coordinated United Nations approach to the problem.

Asked where most of the cross-border activities took place, he replied that such an area was located at a point where Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea shared a border –- in so-called Guinea forestiere. Serious problems also existed on the border between Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.

Asked whether cross-border problems included locust infestation, he responded that they should, but such a phenomenon mostly concerned areas further to the north, including southern Morocco, northern Mauritania and Algeria.

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