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UN Warns More Liberian Violence Likely If Peacekeeper Deployment Further Delayed - 2003-09-16

Top U.N. envoy to Liberia, Jacques Klein, warns that the level of violence may increase in Liberia if a multinational forces is not deployed soon.

Diplomats say that the Security Council is expected to approve a U.S. drafted resolution by Friday authorizing the deployment of 15,000 peacekeepers for troubled Liberia.

The multi-national force is scheduled to take over from regional troops in Liberia by October first.

But top U.N. envoy to Liberia, Jacques Klein, says full deployment is not expected before January. He predicts an upsurge of violence before peace can prevail. "I am afraid, to be candid with you, that the level of violence may actually increase in the next month or two," he said. "And why? It is simply because we do not have the mandate yet, we do not have the troops on the ground yet and it means the criminals will say we better loot, rape, maim and do we can before our weapons are taken away from us. So we actually face a very difficult time."

Mr. Klein made his remarks after appealing to the Security Council to authorize the multinational force, which is expected to contain peacekeepers from several nations, along with members of the force in neighboring Sierra Leone.

The top U.N. envoy says the council supports assisting Liberia. But he urges the international community to fund the effort to restore security, disarm rebel and government militias, rebuild the infrastructure, assist in the return of refugees, and pave the way for elections in 2005.

Humanitarian workers returned to Liberia last month. But U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Ross Mountain says a lack of security and raids by unpaid militias endanger the distribution of food outside the capital, Monrovia. "We need to get out to the whole country and, therefore, we have been focusing on access, negotiated access, with the erstwhile combatants, LURD [Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy] and MODEL [Movement for Democracy in Liberia] and, indeed, the government, which still have large number of militia, which are not adequately controlled," he said.

The United Nations is trying to raise $69 million for humanitarian aid. Donors have contributed half of that figure. Meanwhile, U.N. officials says that Liberia remains a "humanitarian disaster."