United Nations Accuses LURD, MODEL of Carrying On Slavery In Liberia

By J. Moses Gray


The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted September 25, 2003

What appears to be the practice of slavery is said to be going on in Central Liberia and other parts of Liberia, a report monitored this week revealed, though that is yet to be confirmed independently. The report, quoting the United Nations, incriminates the two rebel groups, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) as the perpetrators.

The report alleged that both LURD and MODEL are using civilians to work as slaves and also revealed that the two rebel groups are treating civilians in Gbarnga and Buchanan as ordinary slaves.

According to the report, LURD forces are said to be using women to harvest rice for rebel generals, while MODEL is reportedly engaged in force labor practice in its control area.

But the United Nations special humanitarian coordinator for Liberia, Mr. Ross Mountain told journalists yesterday during a news conference, that UN agencies have been moving within the two rebels controlled areas without any hindrance.

He told the conference that because of the cooperation from the two rebel groups, the UN agencies are moving into leeward counties without waiting for the deployment of the pending UN peacekeepers.

According to Mr. Mountain, his office was able to make contact with the respective chairman of LURD and MODEL in Guinea and Ivory Coast, saying that during the meeting, both men pledged their commitment and promised to honor the Accra peace accord.

He told journalists that the two officials of LURD and MODEL have asked the UN agencies to begin moving into their territories, and so they will soon be going into Lofa County.

In a related development, there are reports that over 6,000 persons from Cental Liberia have fled into Guinea due to continued hostilities in the area.

Addressing journalists yesterday in Monrovia, the country representative of the UN refugee agency, Mr. Moses Okello said “we are disappointed over the continued situation with the people”.

Mr. Okello who appealed to the various factions, said the UNHCR is still carrying on its repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees. Accordingly, he said the organization is studying another option of using the Monrovia -Freetown highway instead of the navigational means for repatriation.

Also speaking, an official of the World Food Program (WFP) in Liberia, Mr. Justin Bagirishya said his organization is distributing food to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Bong and Margibi counties.

According to him, the WFP was able to serve 65,000 persons in Totota, while for Salala, it also served 37,000 IDPs adding that in Buchanan, WFP was able to reach 27,700 IDPs.

Besides, Mr. Bagirishya said his organization was able to serve 160,000 IDPs within one month, while on a general level, the WFP was also able to reach out to 430,000 displaced persons.

Concluding, the WFP boss said the UN food agency will not carry on general food distribution in Monrovia, instead it will undertake other programs such as food-for-work, school feeding, food for pregnant women, as well as food for children under the age of five.

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.