Fighting in Liberia

(Statement by Lynn L. Cassel, Acting Spokeswoman, US State Department)

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 24, 2003

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATEOffice of the Spokesman

May 22, 2003

The United States is greatly disturbed by reports of intensifying fighting in Liberia. More than 10,000 Liberians have been forced in recent days to flee for their lives from southeastern Liberia, joining the already overflowing ranks of the displaced and refugees.

The United States calls on all combatants, including the government and those rebels calling themselves "Liberians United for Reconciliation and Development" (LURD) and "Movement for Democracy in Liberia" (MODEL), to cease their campaigns of violence, and to spare the lives and property of innocent civilians. We urge rebel forces to stay well clear of major population centers, such as Monrovia and Buchanan, and so avoid creating an even greater humanitarian catastrophe.

We also remind all of Liberia's neighbors of their obligation under relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, including Resolution 1478, to take steps to prevent their territory from being used to support rebel forces.

All armed groups should act immediately to allow humanitarian access to territory under their control for relief workers, to help mitigate growing hunger and disease.

Furthermore, all Liberians should prepare themselves for reconciliation and cease-fire talks planned for Accra in early June. We expect the Government of Liberia and the rebels to abide by their pledges to approach cease-fire talks without preconditions, and we hope that all Liberians will work together to finally bring peace and responsible government to their land.