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UN Mission Head Hopeful About Western Africa's Future - 2004-06-30


A Security Council delegation has just returned from a whirlwind tour of West Africa where the group focused on security and the nation building abilities in the war ravaged region.

The delegation visited seven nations in eight days. British ambassador Emyr Jones Parry led the mission to Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Ambassador Parry said recent peace agreements in the region offer hope that Africans can build their own peacekeeping capacities through structures such as the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States. These groups can also, he added, spur regional economic cooperation.

But Ambassador Parry said it is the responsibility of the Security Council to stay involved in the region's security. In addition to a moral duty, he said there is a practical reason to help Africans build a prosperous and stable continent.

"Without security in Africa, there will be no prosperity and stability," he stated. "At the Security Council, we spend some 50 to 60 percent of our time on Africa. The new threats of WMD and terror always risk being spread where instability and conflict reign."

Ambassador Parry said the United Nations must help Africans tackle issues such as refugees, child soldiers, small arms proliferation, human rights and HIV/AIDS. Otherwise, he warned, Africa's problems will "become problems for all of us."