More international troops and equipment needed in Liberia UN report

Inadequate support for peacekeeping in Liberia could hamper future missions in Africa, Secretary-General Kofi Annan warns in a new report, urging countries to make good on their pledges of soldiers and support units.”The slow response from Member States to the [UN Mission in Liberia’s (UNMIL)] troop requirements raises concern, not only for effective implementation of the mandate of UNMIL, but also for planning for possible future peacekeeping operations in Africa, including in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire and the Sudan,” he says in a report to the Security Council released today.As of last week, UNMIL’s troop strength stood at 5,900 military personnel out of an overall authorized strength of 15,000. More contingents are expected from Bangladesh, Namibia, Pakistan, Sweden and Ukraine in the near future. While thanking countries that already have contributed military and police personnel, Mr. Annan calls on others to urgently make available the “sorely needed” specialized support units considered crucial to UNMIL’s effectiveness.The report warns of persistent political and security problems in Liberia. “Regrettably, the armed groups have yet to demonstrate their full commitment to the peace process, as is apparent from the ongoing skirmishes, the continuing serious violations of human rights and the selfish pursuit of lucrative posts in the Government and public corporations,” the Secretary-General says.The people maintaining such an attitude could be held accountable for impeding peacekeeping work and for human rights violations, he adds.Calling on donors to be generous, Mr. Annan notes that early next February, the UN, the World Bank and the United States will jointly host a donors’ conference on Liberia in New York. Meanwhile, a consolidated appeal by the humanitarian agencies for $137 million was launched last month to provide emergency assistance as Liberia’s interior becomes accessible.

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