Survival of Monrovia's Population Is a Matter of Days

Vicar General Stresses Urgent Need to Send Peace-keeping Force

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MONROVIA, JULY 25, 2003 (Zenit.org).- On Friday morning, Salesian Father Harry O’Brien, vicar general of the diocese of Monrovia, made an impassioned appeal for a peace-keeping force to be sent to Liberia immediately, if a catastrophe is to be avoided.

At present, Father O’Brien is the highest ecclesial authority in Liberia, as Archbishop Michael Francis is currently in Great Britain. «Yesterday, West African countries announced the sending of troops to Liberia within a week: it is too late!» MISNA missionary agency reported the priest as saying.

«The peace-keeping force must arrive immediately, otherwise there will be a catastrophe. People need to realize that it is the poor and defenseless who are suffering in Liberia,» he said.

«The peace-keeping contingent was meant to arrive in June, following the truce between the government forces and the rebels, but there has been no sign of it,» he added.

The international community needs to «understand that here in Monrovia thousands of people are wandering about the city aimlessly in search of drinking water, food, and shelter from the bombs. Their survival is a matter of days. Only once fighting has finished will it be possible to help these poor people, who are the real victims of this tragedy,» the Salesian continued.

Father O’Brien said he was forced to abandon the Cathedral in the city center, not far from Mamba Point, in which quarter the U.S. Embassy is also situated, because of bombardments by the LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) rebels, who have laid siege to Monrovia for the past six days in an attempt to overthrow President Charles Taylor.

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