Several Persons Killed, Others Wounded Outside Monrovia

By: Josephus Moses Gray

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

December 10, 2003

The violent protest that started in Paynesville on the second day of disarmament has taken the lives of several persons, while the looting of properties, harassment and intimidation of unarmed civilians in various parts of the capital continue.

Despite of the presence of the United Nations Military Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the chaotic situation continues, leaving scores of persons dead, several wounded and properties looted and damaged. The situation is concentrated in the suburbs of Paynesville and its surrounding areas.

According to information gathered, a middle age lady identified as Marian Jackson, a resident of Duahzon, Paynesville, was killed in her house by unidentified-armed men.

The residents of the area told journalists that the unidentified armed men demanded that the victim give them money, which she did by given them coins in the amount of US$300.00. After taking the money from the victim, the residents alleged that the armed men shot her instantly and took away her vehicle.

The militiamen sporadically opened fire throughout the eastern suburbs of the city and other parts of central Monrovia including outside the compound of the UNMIL’s administrative headquarters at the premises of the old German Embassy.

As a result of the sporadic shooting and subsequent looting of shops, many businesses mainly in the Red Light and ELWA Junction areas were closed for the day.

Several ex-GOL militia ostensibly going to disarm were seen everywhere in the city toting their arms along wherever they went. During the morning hours, the ex-combatants opened fire in front of the German Embassy which they termed as "saying Good Morning to UN Secretary General’s Special Representative Jacques Paul Klein".

Besides, more then nine persons were on Tuesday night shot to death in the Redlight Paynesville Market Community by unidentified armed men. Other report said another man yet to be identified was killed in his residence in the same area by former GOL fighters.

Meanwhile ,the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and commanders of the former GOL have reached an agreement aimed at ensuring the success of the ongoing disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration(DDRR) program in the country.

On December 9 UNMIL held a meeting with commanders of the former GOL militias in working out modalities for the implementation of the DDRR which started well on Sunday.

Militiamen of the former GOL, for the second day now, disrupted the DDRR exercise which was launched on December 7, 2003 at Camp Schieffelin, outside Monrovia, in demand of cash for weapons.

According to a release issued by UNMIL following the sudden meeting, the processing of the current case load at the Camp Schieffelin cantonment site will continue and subsequent disarmament will be based on a DDRR schedule submitted by the former Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL)/GOL commanders.

The five points agreement said a maximum of 400 combatants will be taken in a day, and disarmament will be done in designated reception centers separate from the cantonment site. All disarmed and demobilized combatants will receive an initial payment of their transitional safety net allowances of US$75.00 that supposed to have commenced as of 9th December, 2003.

According to the DDRR schedule agreed upon by UNMIL and former GOL commanders, combatants of the Army Division will be accepted today, while those of the ATU, Wild Geese, Jungle Fire, SOD, MOD and Special Operation Strike Force will follow tomorrow.

The Artillery Division and other units are scheduled for Friday with the Navy and Marine Division completing the timetable on Monday and Tuesday of next week respectively.

Meantime, US Ambassador accredited to Liberia, John William Blaney III has called on all combatants to cooperate with the ongoing DDRR process in keeping with the peace agreement signed by all the parties in Accra, Ghana.
Amb. Blaney said the international community will only provide assistance to Liberia only if the violence in the country is stopped.

In a related development, the Monday and Tuesday riot by militiamen in Paynesville and other parts of the country, has sparked concern of the National Human Rights Center of Liberia, which stressed that the UNMIL should take blame for the incident due to its failure to engage in an intensive disarmament sensitization campaign.

A release issued late yesterday by the group’s national coordinator, A. Blamo Sieh, said it had earlier pointed out that prior to the commencement of the DDRR, information on disarmament sites, transportation arrangement and benefit for fighters were essential information needed to be provided to ensure a smooth process.

"The National Human Rights Center is of the conviction that a sustained process of disarmament is achievable when local civil society groups are encouraged to participate in the exercise most especially as this has the propensity to increase public confidence", the release added.

Moreover, the human rights consortium says it behooves leaders of the parties to the Liberian conflict such as LURD and MODEL and militias of the former government of Charles Taylor to encourage their subordinates to fully comply with the terms of the DDRR exercise.

Meanwhile, Chairman Bryant has declared Curfew in Monrovia and UNMIL personnel have deployed in the troubled spot of Paynesville to bring the situation under control