Liberia: UN Report, 01/29'96

Liberia: UN Report, 01/29'96

Liberia: UN Report (excerpts) Date Distributed (ymd): 960129

Security Council S/1996/47, 23 January 1996 Fifteenth Progress Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia


1. The present report is submitted in pursuance of Security Council resolution 1014 (1995) of 15 September 1995, which extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) until 31 January 1996, and resolution 1020 (1995) of 10 November 1995, which adjusted the mandate of UNOMIL. The report provides an update on developments in Liberia since my report of 18 December 1995 (S/1995/1042), as well as on the implementation of the new mandate of UNOMIL.


2. The period under review has been dominated by the question of the disarmament and demobilization of combatants. The Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) began to deploy its troops to several regions of Liberia for this purpose on 14 December 1995. UNOMIL began to revise its own deployment accordingly. During the latter half of December, extensive consultations were held between the Council of State, my Special Representative, Mr. Anthony Nyakyi, and the ECOMOG Field Commander, Major-General John Inienger, with a view to facilitating this process. The Chairman of the Council of State, Mr. Wilton Sankawulo, and the Vice-Chairmen of the Council travelled extensively throughout the country in order to explain the peace process and to prepare combatants for disarmament and demobilization. In addition, the faction leaders issued directives to their combatants to cooperate with ECOMOG and UNOMIL in the implementation of the Abuja Agreement (S/1995/742, annex). However, the peace process suffered a setback when General Roosevelt Johnson's wing of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO-J) attacked ECOMOG in Tubmanburg on 28 December 1995. Details of this incident are provided in section III below.

3. The situation in Tubmanburg raised concerns that the fighting might spread to other areas under the control of ULIMO-J and derail the peace process. In order to avoid this, the Council of State initiated immediate consultations with ECOMOG and UNOMIL. A goodwill mission, composed of representatives of the Liberian National Transitional Government (LNTG), ULIMO-J and other factions, as well as ECOMOG and UNOMIL, visited Bong Mines, Kakata and Todee on 4 January 1996. Similar visits to Tubmanburg have taken place since then. UNOMIL has facilitated discussions among those concerned on the evacuation of the wounded, the exchange of prisoners and the bodies of those killed in the fighting, and the delivery of emergency humanitarian relief.

4. Following the Tubmanburg incident, the Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Jerry J. Rawlings of Ghana, sent a delegation to Liberia on 5 January 1996. The delegation was headed by Captain Kojo Tsikata, who was accompanied by the Chairman's Special Representative for Liberia, Ambassador J. Gbeho, and the Eminent Person of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) for Liberia, Reverend Canaan Banana. My Special Representative joined them in their meeting with the Council of State. The delegation conveyed to the Council its concern over the developments in Tubmanburg and urged it to continue its collective efforts to avert a setback in the peace process. The Council underscored the need for the early conclusion of a status-of-forces agreement with ECOWAS to clarify the status of ECOMOG in Liberia. The delegation assured the Council that that issue would be brought to the attention of ECOWAS member States, particularly the ECOMOG troop contributing countries.

5. On 6 January 1996, another delegation, led by the Chief of Defence Staff of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Major-General Abdulsalam Abubakar, visited Liberia and met with the Council of State. The delegation, which included the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Chief Tom Ikimi, told UNOMIL that the developments in Tubmanburg confirmed the risks ECOMOG had taken in deploying its troops without the strength and resources necessary to carry out its mandate effectively. Chief Ikimi expressed his deep concern over the delay in the delivery of logistic resources pledged to ECOMOG and emphasized the need for further international assistance in this regard.

6. Since then, Mr. Roosevelt Johnson has called for the exchange of prisoners and the replacement of the ECOMOG contingent in Tubmanburg. He has indicated to my Special Representative that he regards these issues as major obstacles to the stabilization of the situation there. On 16 January, the ULIMO-J Chief of Staff ordered his combatants in Tubmanburg to release all civilians and any ECOMOG soldiers held by them. He also ordered them to turn over to ECOMOG all weapons and equipment seized during the incident. The ECOMOG Force Commander has assured the ULIMO-J leadership that he will release any ULIMO-J fighters held by ECOMOG once all ECOMOG soldiers are released and those missing in action are accounted for. ...


Status of the cease-fire and disengagement of forces

11. The fighting in Tubmanburg was the most serious cease- fire violation since the signing of the Abuja Agreement on 19 August 1995. It began on 28 December 1995, when ECOMOG positions in the town, as well as along the highway up to Kle, were attacked and overrun by ULIMO-J fighters. ... After lengthy consultations between the Council of State, ECOMOG, UNOMIL and ULIMO-J, fighting ceased on 4 January 1996. The situation remains tense, however, and areas west of the Po river bridge, as well as most of Bomi County, are still under the control of ULIMO-J forces. All UNOMIL personnel deployed to Tubmanburg were safely evacuated, with the assistance of ECOMOG, by 30 December 1995. ...

12. The Tubmanburg incident can be traced to the deep-seated suspicions between the two wings of ULIMO. The ULIMO-J commander in the area has alleged that ECOMOG had sided with the forces of Alhaji Kromah's wing (ULIMO-K) and arrested unarmed ULIMO-J combatants. However, ECOMOG has reported that, prior to the incident, ULIMO-J fighters in Tubmanburg repeatedly violated the terms of the cease-fire, entered the town with arms and harassed civilians.

13. ECOMOG has reported that it suffered 94 casualties (16 dead and 78 wounded) as a result of the Tubmanburg incident, with an additional 10 soldiers reported missing in action. ECOMOG arms, ammunition and equipment were also seized by ULIMO-J. Civilian and ULIMO-J casualties are so far undetermined. ...

17. No progress in the disengagement of forces has been reported and, for the most part, fighters continue to occupy their positions and maintain checkpoints. ...

Deployment of ECOMOG and UNOMIL

18. In accordance with the revised plans of ECOMOG and UNOMIL, deployment was scheduled to be completed by 31 January 1996. During the month of December, despite logistic and manpower constraints, ECOMOG deployed contingents to Gbarnga (Bong County), Greenville (Sinoe County), Suehn (Lofa County) and Lofa Bridge (Bomi/Grand Cape Mount Counties). ... any further deployment of ECOMOG has been suspended in the light of the Tubmanburg incident. ...

19. The total military strength of UNOMIL is currently 82 observers out of the 160 authorized by the Security Council in resolution 1020 (1995) ... Further deployment of UNOMIL, as well as any further increase in its military strength, will depend on the deployment of ECOMOG troops and on progress in the peace process.


20. During the period under review, the ECOMOG Disarmament Committee has continued to make arrangements for the commencement of disarmament. Its work focused on the harmonization of procedures and the collection of data from the factions on their arms and ammunition, as well as on the prisoners held by them.

21. Although NPFL and ULIMO have made some changes to their respective assembly sites and have yet to propose alternative locations, UNOMIL has carried out reconnaissance of most sites so far designated. Rehabilitation of the facilities for disarmament and demobilization will be undertaken as security conditions permit. ...


24. UNOMIL has continued to monitor the human rights situation in Liberia and to carry out investigations of major violations. The fighting in Tubmanburg has had serious human rights implications. While civilian casualties are as yet undetermined, they are estimated to have been significant. UNOMIL confirmed that, on 30 December 1995, ULIMO-J fighters forced civilians out of the government hospital, where they had taken refuge, and used them as human shields for their positions in the town. As part of the same tactic, the fighters generally prevented civilians from fleeing the town. Also on 30 December, a mortar landed at the government hospital, killing several civilians and injuring many more. ...


30. The humanitarian assistance community has continued its efforts to reach previously inaccessible parts of the country. The opening of some highways in the past few months has permitted the provision of assistance to populations that had been cut off for nearly three years. Although relief convoys are generally escorted by unarmed factional representatives, poor communications between faction leaders and their fighters in the hinterland have impeded humanitarian assistance activities. ...


34. While economic activity continues to increase, maintenance of this trend will depend on the restoration of secure conditions throughout the country. The opening of roads to the northern and south-eastern regions has brought about a perceptible increase in local produce in the markets of Monrovia.

35. A special consultation meeting of LNTG and its international partners is scheduled to take place in March 1996 to address the recovery and reconstruction process. In preparation for the meeting, a joint UNDP/World Bank mission and an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission recently visited Liberia. Several teams will be deployed shortly to undertake rapid assessments of the education, food security, health and information sectors, as well as infrastructure, private sector, public administration and resettlement issues in preparation for the meeting. A socio-economic assessment of displaced persons and returnees will also be undertaken. ...


39. As of 15 January 1996, unpaid assessed contributions to the UNOMIL special account since its inception amounted to $7.7 million. The total of outstanding assessed contributions for all peace-keeping operations on 15 January 1996 was $1,703 million.

40. With regard to the Trust Fund for Liberia, as of 15 January 1996, contributions totalling some $24 million had been received and expenditures of some $21.9 million had been authorized.


41. Recent events in Liberia have caused serious concern and have regrettably delayed the implementation of the Abuja Agreement further. ECOMOG has suffered as a result of the recent attacks on its troops. I extend my condolences to the troop-contributing countries and to the families of the ECOMOG soldiers who were killed or wounded in the fulfilment of their peace-keeping duties, as well as to the families of innocent civilians who lost their lives.

42. The peace process is now at a critical juncture and the full support of all concerned will be required to overcome the recent setbacks. The faction leaders must ensure that their forces effectively observe the cease-fire, disengage without further delay and provide the cooperation necessary to enable ECOMOG and UNOMIL to initiate disarmament and demobilization as soon as possible. LNTG must provide its full support to these efforts and play an active role in ensuring that the Liberian factions extend the necessary cooperation to ECOMOG and UNOMIL. The international community, for its part, must provide the resources necessary to enable ECOMOG to fulfil its responsibilities effectively, since the continued lack of such support could jeopardize the implementation of the Abuja Agreement.

43. LNTG has stressed that ex-combatants must be provided opportunities to enable them to reintegrate successfully into civilian society. It is fully recognized that the success of the demobilization process will depend on whether ex- combatants can find ways of sustaining themselves other than by use of the gun. The creation of such opportunities depends, in part, on the provision of funds by the donor community for reintegration projects, as well as on private investment to revitalize the economic sector. It is not likely, however, that such support will be forthcoming unless a safe and secure environment can be established throughout the country. This depends, in turn, on the successful disarmament of combatants.

44. The schedule of implementation attached to the Abuja Agreement (S/1995/742, appendix) called for the disengagement of forces to be completed by 26 September and for disarmament to commence on 1 December 1995. As indicated in my earlier reports, this timetable underestimated the delays and obstacles involved in ensuring that combatants are fully prepared to participate in the disarmament and demobilization process and in deploying the personnel and equipment necessary to carry out this complex process. The fighting in Tubmanburg and subsequent developments have shown that the causes for delay have become more serious and that they can be overcome only if the faction leaders are truly determined to proceed with the peace process. They should bear in mind that ECOWAS and the international community cannot be expected to support the peace process in Liberia indefinitely, in the absence of a clear political will on their part to abide by and implement the commitments they freely entered into.

45. Notwithstanding the recent setbacks described in the present report, I recommend that the Security Council consider the extension of UNOMIL for a period of four months, until 31 May 1996, at which point the situation can be reviewed, keeping in mind that, under the Abuja Agreement, the elections are scheduled to be held before the end of August 1996. During this period, I expect LNTG and faction leaders to provide their full cooperation to ECOMOG and UNOMIL in stabilizing the situation and in vigorously moving ahead with the implementation of the Abuja Agreement. I intend to keep the Security Council regularly informed of relevant developments in this regard and to submit a progress report by the end of March 1996. I also call on the international community to reconsider urgently its current level of support to ECOMOG and to ensure that the necessary logistic assistance is provided to enable the force to carry out its demanding responsibilities.

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Message-Id: <> From: "APIC" <> Date: Mon, 29 Jan 1996 23:14:13 -0500 Subject: Liberia: UN Report (excerpts)