UN Radio: Liberian Truce and other world news
UN Radio: Liberian Truce – Monrovia Refugee Camps – Afghan Peace Process – UN Official Meets Kurd Leader – Drought and Desertification World Problem
Liberian Government signs Truce with Rebels to end Civil War
Liberian rebels today signed a truce with President Charles Taylor's government to end a four-year civil war that has created a humanitarian crisis in the West Africa region. The UN's Special Representative for Liberia, Abou Moussa, reports that the 12-point Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities Agreement was signed in Accra, Ghana by the two rebel groups - Liberians United for Reconstruction and Democracy (LURD) and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL). The agreement provides for comprehensive peace talks within 30 days on the establishment of a transitional government from which President Charles Taylor would be excluded. The United Nations is expected to provide logistical and military personnel support to the "joint verification team" led by the Economic Community of West African States which would identify the locations of the parties on the ground and, a "joint monitoring committee" which would supervise and monitor the ceasefire.
UNHCR seeking Safe Access to Refugees in Camps around Monrovia
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR), is requesting assistance from the Liberian Government in gaining access to refugee camps around the capital Monrovia. UNHCR says it once had four camps holding 15-thousand Sierra Leonean refugees, but many have since fled the fighting. Spokesperson Delphine Marie says the situation in Monrovia remains quite unstable:
:"For some of the camps we have not been able to access the camps for Sierra Leonean refugees which are situated in the vicinity of Monrovia but nevertheless, far enough for three of them to have been over run by rebels when they gained control of some land close to Monrovia in recent days."
UNHCR says it's ready to return to the camps with medicines, shelter material and other aid, as soon as security improves.
UN calls for Shared Commitment for Afghan Peace Process to Move Forward
The UN's top
peacekeeping official has called on the authorities in
Afghanistan and the international community to demonstrate a
shared commitment to provide the necessary conditions for
the peace process to move
Under-Secretary-General, Jean-Marie Guenhenno, told an open-meeting of the UN Security Council that civic processes central to the Bonn Agreement have begun and would offer all Afghans a stake in achieving a stable state.
But he warned that there are still some within Afghanistan for whom the process represents a threat and it is their intention to subvert it and force the government and international community into retreat:
"The process has entered into its most critical and most sensitive stage - the constitutional and electoral processes - but prevailing insecurity poses a serious risk of derailing it. Those who wish to subvert the process should not be allowed to triumph over the aspirations of the majority of Afghanis for a stable state."
Under-Secretary-General Guehenno said further deployment of international security elements of a credible strength are needed to provide the security environment and confidence for the Bonn process to move forward.
Top UN Official in Baghdad meets with Kurdish Leader
In Baghdad, Special Representative
Sergio Vieira de Mello has met with the Iraqi Kurdish leader
Mr. De Mello underlined the importance of promoting and protecting the human rights of all Iraqis and of assuring an equal place for Iraqi women in all walks of life. A UN spokesman says the Kurdish leader told Mr. De Mello that he believes the UN should play an important role in the current transitional phase in Iraq by providing advice and assistance in matters such as constitutional electoral processes, financial, monetary and budgetary matters, as well as in the longer term construction of democratic institutions of Iraq.
Desertification and drought pose ever-increasing global threat
Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned that desertification and drought pose an ever-increasing global threat. In a message marking "World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought", the Secretary-General said human activities such as overcultivation, overgrazing, deforestation and poor irrigation practices, along with climate change, are turning once fertile soils into unproductive and barren patches of land. He said that a lack of arable land is threatening food security, particularly in poor rural areas and triggering humanitarian and economic crises.