Global Agency's Director Issues Plea to African American Decision Makers: "Tell Bush Liberia Must Have Direct Intervention Now"

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 2, 2003


ACCRA, GHANA & NEW YORK, NY 8/1/03 Frustrated with sluggish U.S. response to the desperate Liberian crisis, global humanitarian agency Church World Service will join Liberian church and civil society leaders in Accra, Ghana, Sunday August 3, 2:00 PM, for an emergency Liberia Consultation, as the Liberian groups determine a joint regional and international advocacy strategy to help hasten the Liberian recovery process.

Concurrently, in the U.S, Church World Service Executive Director John L. McCullough this afternoon (Fri 8/1) issued an emergency plea to African American leaders asking them to urge President Bush to immediately authorize U.S. troops to directly join the first ECOWAS stabilization force that will reportedly enter Liberia by Monday (8/4).

Some 2,300 U.S. Marines aboard three U.S. Navy Amphibious Ready Group vessels are on way to the Liberian coast now, with the first due to arrive by tomorrow (Sat 8/2), but with instructions to maintain position offshore. Otherwise, the U.S.¹ response to date has been its stated concerns over Liberia and its pledge yesterday of $10 million to support the ECOWAS force¹s deployment in the conflict-torn and decimated country.

WHO: Facilitators for Sunday's Liberia Consultation include representatives from the YMCA of Liberia, the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), the Ghana Christian Council (GCC), and the All Africa Council of Churches (AACC).

The Consultation¹s facilitators have selected as attendees members of warring factions, Liberian government representatives, the Liberian Bar Association, the Liberian women¹s sector, the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA), members of other Liberian civil society organizations, and representatives from leadership of a Liberian refugee camp in Accra.

Some of the Consultation¹s facilitators and attendees have been participating in the ongoing and now stalled Liberian peace talks that have continued in fits and starts in Accra, Ghana, since mid-June.

Many of those participants have been unable to return to Liberia due to continued fighting that has killed hundreds of people and flies in the face of warring factions¹ various stated ceasefire agreements.

As a humanitarian partner of the Liberian churches and YMCA, Church World Service International Emergency Response representative Ivan DeKam and Emergency Response Program Information Officer Chris Herlinger, are now in Ghana to prepare for additional, urgently needed humanitarian assistance for Liberia. DeKam and Herlinger will also be present at the Liberia

As part of its Africa Initiative, CWS has placed special emphasis on the Mano River sub-region, with aggressive advocacy over the past year at U.S. government and UN levels.

Key facilitators for the Liberian Consultation include Liberia YMCA President Amb Boakai and General Secretary Peter Kamei, acting President of the Liberia Council of Churches Bishop John Innis (Chairman for the Consultation), and LCC General Secretary Benjamin Lartey.

WHAT: The joint consultation will focus on:

o Deployment of stabilization and peacekeeping forces
o Disarmament
o Security in the country
o The mandate of the peacekeepers
o Process for selection of leaders for Liberia¹s interim government
o The role, if any, of warring factions in interim and future Liberiangovernments
o Expeditious provision of humanitarian aid

The Liberian leaders and CWS intend to end the Consultation with agreed issue statements to present to regional and international decision makers, aimed at promoting immediate, direct stabilization intervention, national unity and rebuilding of the fractured Liberian society.

It is estimated that all of Liberia¹s three million citizens will need substantial emergency assistance in coming months. LCC General Secretary Benjamin Lartey says that Liberia¹s church leaders are angered by the lack of international response to the Liberian people¹s needs. "Where are the peace-loving countries?" Lartey asked. "Who cares about Liberia?"

Liberia YMCA¹s Peter Kamei adds, "This is a disgrace in our modern era;
watching people commit suicide and commit genocide. We¹ve seen it in Rwanda;
we¹ve seen it in Burundi. It has to stop."

Working with immediate international help, Kamei says, "The church has the
largest power and the largest power-base for peace building in Liberia.

"It has the capability," he adds, "the structure, the credentials, the
influence. We can transform the culture of violence to a culture of peace."

As part of CWS¹ advocacy work for Liberia, the West African church leaders
are also encouraging CWS to meet with ECOWAS representatives in Ghana, to
promote accelerated stabilization actions that would allow immediate humanitarian aid to flow.

WHEN/WHERE: The Liberia Consultation will convene at the Christian Council of Ghana, Lokko Road, Osu, Acca; 2 PM, Sunday, August 3.

A press conference will follow the consultation.

For interviews with Consultation and Church World Service spokespersons in Accra or the U.S., see contact information below.


Chris Herlinger/CWS Media Liaison in Accra
Satellite Phone: (from U.S.) 011 8816 314 63599
Satellite Pager: (from the US) 011 8816 314 92890
Cell Phone: 1 616-334-5068

Jan Dragin/New York/Boston
Phone: (781) 925-1526

Ann Walle/CWS/New York
Phone: (212) 870-2654