World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

On-going violence in Liberia

31 July 2003

Letter to WCC member churches, 31 July, 2003


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with deep sadness that we write to you about the on-going violence and
the immense human suffering taking place in Liberia.

On 13 June, the World Council of Churches' General Secretary Rev. Dr Konrad
Raiser sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressing serious
concern at the escalation of fighting in Liberia between government forces and
the rebel groups. The letter called on the UN to support current peace initiatives
and encourage the parties to accept a "credible peacekeeping force", with the aim
of securing a lasting ceasefire. Since then the situation has worsened dramatically.

Rebel forces insist there will be no cease-fire until peacekeepers arrive. Efforts
to send peacekeeping forces seem to be bogged down in discussions of finances.

Meanwhile, reports from churches in Liberia say that "The humanitarian situation
is desperate and gets worse every day… There is no supply of drinking
water and no food… The churches' and mosques' compounds are full of people
who fled the war zones and are in need of assistance. Unfortunately, there is nothing
to help them."

We ask you to pray for peace in Liberia. In spite of the devastating violence in
Liberia, Christians are gathering spontaneously to pray for peace. The All Africa
Conference of Churches (AACC), the Fellowship of Churches and Councils in
West Africa (FECCIWA) and WCC are calling on churches throughout Africa to
pray for Liberia and to organize ecumenical services. We ask you to include Liberia
in your intercessions next Sunday and to organize special prayer sessions wherever
possible.

We ask you to urge your governments to support the immediate deployment
of peacekeepers to Liberia and to ensure that these are adequately financed.

We ask you to respond generously to both the immediate humanitarian needs
in Liberia and to longer-term efforts for relief and reconstruction through the
Action by Churches Together (ACT) International appeal, AFLR31. Although
the Liberian ACT members' humanitarian response has been severely hampered
by the recent fighting, they will continue their relief efforts as soon as it is safe
to do so. ACT International has a long history of humanitarian response to the
people of Liberia, made possible through the financial support and shipments of
relief items by ACT members around the world in support of ACT's local members
and partners.

At this time of uncertainty and suffering in Liberia, we recall the importance
of unity in the words which Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth: "Blessed be the
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all
comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort
those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are
comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through
Christ we share abundantly in comfort too." (II Cor. 1: 3-7)

Yours in Christ,

William Temu
Acting General Secretary