Religious Leaders Call for Solution to Liberian Crisis
Religious leaders meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, today called for a solution to the rapidly escalating conflict in Liberia and its impact on all of the West African region. A group led by senior clerics from across Africa formally presented an appeal to a committee of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) this morning. The Committee on Foreign Affairs accepted and endorsed the appeal and urged its adoption by the full Parliament this afternoon.
July 15th, 2003
Contact: Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General, WCRP Phone: (212) 687-2163; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abuja, Nigeria — (11 June 2003) — Religious leaders meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, today called for a solution to the rapidly escalating conflict in Liberia and its impact on all of the West African region. A group led by senior clerics from across Africa formally presented an appeal to a committee of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) this morning. The Committee on Foreign Affairs accepted and endorsed the appeal and urged its adoption by the full Parliament this afternoon.
Speaking before the inaugural meeting of the African Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL), Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General of the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP), stated, “Religious leaders in Africa and beyond are fully seized by the worsening situation in Liberia and the entire sub-region.”
The situation inside the country continues to deteriorate with the international relief agency Medecins Sans Frontieres estimating the number of displaced as up to one million people. At least 100,000 have sought shelter in ramshackle camps without food, water, or adequate medical supplies.
His Grace Dr. John Onaiyekan, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Abuja and host of the ACRL meeting, commended ECOWAS and the International Contact Group for their efforts to resolve the crises, but urged additional steps be taken immediately.
In a joint statement signed by WCRP Co-Presidents, Archbishop Onaiyekan, H.E. Dr. Adamou N'dam Njoya, Minister Plenipotentiary Cameroon, and Dr. Vendley, the religious leaders issued an urgent appeal for a:
- Ceasefire in Liberia between all belligerents;
- Resumption of humanitarian assistance and emergency relief to the refugees and internally displaced persons in Liberia and all other peoples in the sub-region adversely affected by the crises;
- Deployment of an international stabilization force in Liberia to monitor demobilization and re-integration of all military and security personnel and the electoral process;
“As senior religious leaders, we are committed to collaborating with ECOWAS to resolve this crisis and establish just and peaceful societies in the sub-region,” noted Dr. Njoya.
Leaders of the delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament included Dr. Njoya, Bishop Albert Gomez, President of the Interreligious Council-Guinea, Most Rev. Peter Kodwo Turkson, Archbishop of Cape Coast and Chair of the Interreligious Council-Ghana, Mr. David Kiazolu, Secretary General of Interreligious Council-Liberia, Rev. Prof. Yusufu Obaje, Co-ordinator of the Nigerian Interreligious Council, Rev. William Tolbert III, West African Regional Director for WCRP and Ms. Angela Oliver, WCRP Director of the Program on Conflict Transformation.
WCRP and its affiliated regionally based Interreligious Councils have long been at work mediating conflict in the Mano River region of West Africa. Since 1996, WCRP has brought together religious leaders in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia to assist them in stemming conflict and building peace in their home countries and the region.
The World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP) mobilizes religious communities to work together to prevent and mediate violent conflicts, to strengthen civil society and to protect children. WCRP is a non-sectarian, non-political coalition of the leaders and representatives of the major religions of the world. The Executive Committee of WCRP includes Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Indigenous, Jewish and Muslim leaders. Information on WCRP and its programs is available at www.wcrp.org.