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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 11:09 GMT
Liberian arms ban extended to rebels
Liberian troops
Liberia's army cannot buy weapons to fight rebels
The United Nations Security Council has extended its arms embargo on Liberia for another six months, after accusing the government of continuing to import weapons.

Liberian President Charles Taylor
Mr Taylor is not allowed to travel abroad
The Security Council said the embargo applied to all groups in Liberia, including the main rebel group Lurd (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy).

The Council also urged the Liberian Government to direct its resources towards addressing the country's humanitarian crisis.

The 15-nation Council imposed an arms embargo, a ban on diamond exports, and a travel ban on Liberia's leaders in May 2001 after accusing the government of fuelling civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone through an illicit arms-for-diamonds trade.

'Blood diamonds'

In May this year, the Council renewed the sanctions against Liberia, saying peace was not yet guaranteed in Sierra Leone.

The Liberian Government says the sanctions should be lifted because the 10-year war in Sierra Leone was officially declared over earlier this year.

It also argues that it needs weapons to fight off the Lurd rebels based in the north of the country.

Liberian refugees
Thousands have been displaced by renewed fighting in Liberia

The fighting has forced thousands of people to flee their homes.

The sanctions were imposed because Liberia was accused of selling so-called "blood diamonds" on behalf of Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in exchange for supplying them with weapons.

Almost 50,000 former RUF fighters have disarmed and the group has transformed itself into a political party which contested elections earlier this year.

African leaders have asked the UN to end sanctions because of their "negative impact" on the Liberian people.

But some human rights groups have argued that they should be widened to include the timber trade and the shipping register.

They say that, after the imposition of sanctions, Liberia started funding its weapons purchases by selling timber.

The Security Council has urged Liberia to set up an internationally verifiable auditing system to prove that revenue from registering ships and timber was not being used to buy weapons "in violation of this resolution".

News, analysis and background from Liberia's conflict and escalating refugee crisis

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14 Sep 02 | Africa
03 Aug 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
07 May 02 | Africa
06 May 01 | Africa
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