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UN Radio: US, UN Agree to Liberia General Approach


UN Radio: US, UN Agree to General Approach on Liberian Issue: Annan

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  • US, UN Agree to General Approach on Liberian Issue: Annan

    Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said he is satisfied with the approach the United States is taking on the situation in Liberia and he said the United States and the United Nations have "more or less agreed to a general approach on the Liberian issue." The Secretary-General told reporters at a White House briefing that the understanding emerging now is for the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) forces to send in a vanguard of about 1,000 to 1,500 troops. After that, he added, President Charles Taylor would leave Liberia:

    "...and then the force will be strengthened, hopefully with US participation, and additional troops from the West African region. Eventually, UN Blue Helmets will be set up to stabilize the situation, along the lines that we've done in Sierra Leone, and once the situation is calmer and stabilized, the US would leave and the UN peacekeepers would carry on the operation."

    While in Washington, the Secretary-General met with President Bush, a senior administration official and members of the House Committee on International Relations.

    Great Humanitarian Needs Persist in Monrovia, Liberia

    Although a relative calm has prevailed in Liberia for nearly a week, UN and non-governmental agencies are still confronted with great humanitarian needs in and around the capital, Monrovia. Aid agencies report that many internally displaced persons continue to suffer from shortages of food, clean water and basic health services. The World Food Programme, non-governmental organisations and Liberian officials have carried out preliminary assessments and begun distributing food to some of the more than 180-thousand Monrovians in need of food aid. A 7-member team from the UN food agency (WFP), UNICEF and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has arrived in Liberia to assess the humanitarian situation.

    WHO Calls for Widespread Free Access to Anti-TB Drugs

    The UN health agency (WHO) has called for free anti-TB drugs and quality care to be made available to people living with HIV. The World Health Organization also called for renewed efforts to increase access to anti-retrovirals in developing countries. The director of WHO's Stop TB Department Dr. Mario Raviglione tells UN Radio the drugs are needed to stem the expanding TB epidemic:

    "Simply because we see in the African continent an increasing trend of tuberculosis associated with HIV: a trend that essentially tripled or quadrupled in some countries the number of TB cases during the last decade. And so we think that this cannot continue."

    Dr. Raviglione says access should not be limited to just 20 or 30 per cent of the TB cases in Africa having adequate drugs.

    UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees Running Out of Funds: Hansen

    The UN agency assisting Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza (UNRWA), has warned that it would be forced to make drastic cuts to the food, housing and educational aid it provides. Head of the UN relief and works agency Peter Hansen says UNRWA has not received any monies from its appeal for $102 million to continue its emergency work for the second half of this year. As of now he adds, the agency has only received pledges of $3 million.

    "We are now down to half of the food distributions that we were planning and we will get down to it again this year at best. And mind you this is in a situation where we have malnutrition, where the food situation has been getting worse rather than getting better."

    Hansen says the sharp drop in aid would force the agency to cancel plans to rebuild more than a thousand housing units destroyed in fighting in the West Bank and Gaza.

    UNHCR Concerned about Spontaneous Return Movements of Iraqi Refugees

    The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) wants to see Iraqi refugees desperate to return home from their camps in Iran, go back to their country in a coordinated manner.
    UNHCR Spokesman Peter Kessler says as a result, the agency has planned some small-scale facilitated return movements:

    " We are concerned that spontaneous return movements like the crossings we are seeing at Shalamsha, mean that Iraqis are going back to uncertain situations. Our message to Iraqi refugees in the neighbouring countries and worldwide is to be patient. We do plan to start some small scale return movements over the next week."

    Kessler says the security situation and lack of essential services precludes larger scale returns for the time being.


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