The European Union urged Liberia’s warring rivals today to sign up to a lasting ceasefire and called on rebels to lift their nine day siege of Monrovia to allow food and aid into the capital.
The EU condemned “repeated violations” of the ceasefire agreement signed a month ago, saying continued fighting was “a cause of untold suffering for the civilian population.”
Rebels are pressing a two-month campaign to take Monrovia, an isolated, bloodied, disease-ridden and hungry city of at least 1.3 million residents and refugees.
The rebels’ goal is to drive out President Charles Taylor, a former warlord behind nearly 14 years of conflict in the once-rich West African nation.
The EU reiterated “the importance of the earliest possible deployment” of peacekeepers to Liberia, but said that could only come if Taylor resigned from his post and a lasting ceasefire was in place.
The EU said it “stands ready to consider support” for a peacekeeping force, but did not say if it would send troops.
Three US warships, led by the amphibious assault vessel Iwo Jima, are expected off the Liberian coast this week.