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Europe

European Press Review: Emergency Situation in Liberia

Wednesday’s European papers commented on the situation in Liberia as aid agencies rush to provide relief. They also looked at the fragile peace process in the Middle East following the latest suicide bombings.

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Security is the primary concern in Liberia.

The Independent said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon must resist the urge to retaliate if the road-map for peace is to survive. "And right now, that’s the most important thing," the paper added. The chances of the peace plan’s success might be better if it weren’t for Sharon’s great wall which effectively annexes part of the occupied territories and which the British paper calls a ‘barbarous monument.’ The most potent criticism of the barrier is that it won’t succeed in improving Israeli security, the paper observed. As Tuesday’s attacks showed, some suicide bombers will always get through.

The French daily L'Alsace was of the opinion that Israelis are justified in demanding peace and an end to terrorist attacks. But Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat and the Palestinians are also right to accuse their powerful neighbors of actions which naturally provoke retaliation. Now, attention is turned to the United States which has promised to bring peace to the Middle East, jut as soon as it's managed to get rid of Saddam Hussein, the paper commented.

In fact, the connection with Iraq remains a mystery, mused Italy’s La Stampa. It’s not clear how establishing democracy in Iraq will have a positive impact on the other Arab states in the region, while at the same time softening Sharon’s position, the Turin-based daily pointed out. It said that although the road map to peace is a worthy plan on paper, it fails to clearly spell out the terms and conditions for achieving peace.

The subject of securing peace in Liberia was the focus of the London-based The Guardian. Quoting humanitarian agencies that described the conditions in which displaced families are living in "rivers of sewage and infestations of maggots," the paper said the situation in the African country was tantamount to an emergency. After President Charles Taylor’s departure, the top priority is now security, the paper wrote. A second United Nations Security Council Resolution is urgently needed, backed by funds and troops, to enable a more substantial peacekeeping force with wider powers, the paper argued. After years of neglect, the problems of the region can no longer be ducked by the international community.

While the people of Liberia suffer, Norway's Aftenposten noted that by contrast, Taylor could now have a better life to look forward to in exile. The paper described his departure as bizarre -- but it agreed with his parting call for a greater commitment from the international community, and above all the United States.