31 March 2003

Secretary-General Deeply Concerned Over Fighting in Liberia; Urges All Parties to Ensure Protection of Civilians

NEW YORK, 28 March (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned over fighting near the town of Zwedru, Liberia in which thousands of civilians are reported to have been displaced from their homes. He is also concerned about the safety of a number of humanitarian workers from United Nations and non-governmental agencies who had been assisting populations in the Zwedru area, and have been out of contact with their respective organizations since yesterday. Some have escaped to safety in neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire, but we are still awaiting news of the others.

The Secretary-General urges all parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilian populations caught in fighting, including humanitarian workers. He calls on all parties to the conflict to respect the provisions of international humanitarian law that oblige combatants to ensure the safety of humanitarian personnel.

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