UNMIL Says Renewed Fighting In Central Liberia

By: I. Solo Kelgbeh

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted December 6, 2003

As December 7, the scheduled date for the commencement of disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR) of combatants draws nearer, news about fighting in Nimba County has been reported in Monrovia.

The latest report of renewed fighting in that part of the country is somehow sketchy as to who is doing it.
At its regular Wednesday news briefing, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) confirmed reports of the fighting in the county but said it did not know who is involved.

The Chief of Staff of UNMIL, B/Gen. Robert Fitzgerald said the situation in the county is still volatile but the peacekeepers were paying reconnaissance visits there.

Although Gen. Fitzgerald seemed to be worried over the fighting and the humanitarian condition of the innocent people in Nimba, he ruled out any form of immediate deployment of UNMIL in the county.

He said the present strength of UNMIL which is about 5,000 men is not large enough to be expanded into Nimba County saying, "Nimba is over 230 kilometers from the capital." He pointed out that to deploy or commit any stationary troops in Nimba, there must be a secure supply route.

Gen. Fitzgerald, however, said nothing is going to abort UNMIL’s plan for the restoration of peace in the country. He said the deployment of peacekeepers will certainly take place but will be done only when the troops needed are on the ground.

He maintained that the troops are arriving in the country every day. "In the next ten days or later, I am sure deployment will begin throughout the country."

The news of the renewed fighting in Nimba County has raised many questions than answers. The public thought that with the removal from the county of the two former GOL militia commanders Adolphus Dolo alias "Gen. Peanut butter", and Gen Tamba would have brought calm to the county.

UNMIL brought to Monrovia the two generals with the hope of stopping the skirmishes in the county.

Meanwhile, UNMIL says there will be no turning back on the DDRR program. Gen. Fitzgerald said the warring parties at the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) last Tuesday reaffirmed their commitment to the DDRRP.

Already he said, UNMIL has been deployed in Buchanan and Camp Scheifflin and is paying regular patrols to Tubmanburg, Bomi County.

He said parties have told the international community and UNMIL that they will cooperate with the December 7 date for the DDRRP.

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