Liberia situation simply horrendous UN envoy for waraffected children says

At a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York, Olara Otunnu, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said humanitarian access “is now next to zero” as 70 per cent of the population has been cut off from any access to water, sanitation, food and medical attention for months.Mr. Otunnu, who returned yesterday from a weeklong mission to Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire, said it was critical to deploy “a force that would not only be in place and observe the situation on the ground, but would actually act to ensure humanitarian access, to ensure the protection of civilian populations when they are being threatened and to ensure the enforcement and observation of an agreed ceasefire.”He was in the war-ravaged region to attend a meeting organized by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to rally a concerted response to the crisis. He also met with UN agencies on the ground, as well as a number of government ministers from West African countries meeting in Dakar, Senegal, to plan for the possible deployment of a joint intervention force.“The developments in Monrovia have implications, of course in the first instance for Liberia, but more broadly for the entire sub-region, which is why the discussions in Dakar on a sub-regional approach were so important,” Mr. Otunnu noted.Meanwhile, UN national staff in Liberia reported that the situation in Monrovia was getting worse. A water supply station from outside the capital at the town of White Plains was destroyed, leaving virtually the entire city of one million people without clean water.Humanitarian agencies called on rebel and government forces to stop fighting long enough to allow for the water supply station at White Plains to be repaired. If the clean water supply is not quickly restored, lethal diseases such as cholera will spread quickly, they warned.

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