INTERVIEW-Liberia's Sirleaf warns on Ivory Coast

Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:07pm GMT

* Johnson-Sirleaf says Ivory Coast "already at war"

* Response to U.N. aid appeal "slow and inadequate"

* Defends decision to stand for new term at 72 (Adds new quotes on Ivory Coast, her career)

By Simon Akam

MONROVIA, March 21 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's descent into violence risks wiping out hard-won security gains in West Africa unless a post-election power struggle is resolved, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf told Reuters on Monday.

"We're already at war. We hope there will not be an escalation of war," she said in an interview in her office in Liberia's capital Monrovia.

"It's a serious threat to the stability of Liberia, and I might say to the stability of all neighbouring countries."

Liberia is recovering from years of civil war between 1998 and 2003 and is struggling to cope with some 90,000 Ivorian refugees who have poured across the border since a dispute over a November presidential vote turned violent.

The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) appealed for $46 million in aid in mid-January but with the focus of world attention on the conflict in Libya and the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan, said earlier this month barely $5 million had come.   Continued...

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