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UN Officials Express Concern About Instability in Guinea - 2004-02-21

United Nations officials in West Africa have expressed concern over growing instability in Guinea, as they work to coordinate peacekeeping efforts throughout the region.

U.N. officials meeting in Senegal Friday said growing tensions in the West African nation of Guinea could create instability in the region.

The meeting, at Goree Island, brought together the heads of the peacekeeping missions from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau, the four nations that border Guinea.

Although Guinea has been heralded for remaining stable, while its neighbors have become embroiled in civil wars, the U.N. Office for West Africa says increased tensions along the border regions, especially with Liberia and Ivory Coast could jeopardize peacekeeping efforts.

At the moment, United Nations operations are not allowed to cross national borders, a situation that leads to inconsistencies in patrolling.

During disarmament efforts, Liberia and Ivory Coast had offered different amounts of resettlement funds to rebels who turned in their guns, which caused protests. There was also concern that rebels would cross borders, in order to collect higher payments.

The U.N. mission in West Africa has requested that their efforts be consistent regionally, allowing peacekeeping troops to be moved across national borders, if necessary.

Cross-border missions are rare, because the peacekeepers come from various nations that have to approve the movement of troops into more than one country.