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Liberia: archbishop calls for rapid deployment of peacekeepers

 The Archbishop of Monrovia, Monsignor Michael Francis, has appealed for the rapid deployment of peacekeepers in his country. Speaking to the Missionary News Service yesterday, he said: "The most important matter now is that the peacekeeping force of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) is deployed in Liberia as soon as possible. Only then, can we face the rest." The Archbishop, who has just returned from an overseas trip, said the situation yesterday seemed calmer, "but what occurred in the past few days is deplorable. Gunfights and rockets launched among the people have caused a great number of indiscriminate killings". The Archbishop's residence, located in the centre of the Liberian capital, has survived without damage. He told MISNA he will be meeting with local clergy and with CARITAS officials today. He said: "There is a lot of work to be done on all fronts. First there is the humanitarian emergency. With the arrival of the peacekeepers, even the security guarantees should increase, which should permit us to assist the thousands of displaced people in Monrovia. Then we must think about resuming the activities of all the parish churches. At least six, have been looted and totally plundered." Archbishop Francis said there was great anxiety among people in Monrovia about what will occur on 11 August, the date on which the Liberian Head of State Charles Taylor has promised to step down from power. He said: "I am very disappointed by the attitude and behaviour of the United States in relation to this crisis. I was able to express by criticisms on the US role directly to the US State Department and to the American Congress." The Archbishop said he was thankful to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and the entire UN organization for their efforts to resolve the crisis. Source: MISNA