|“We Must Redouble Our Efforts” - UN Envoy Urges Peacekeepers|
|Published on February 24, 2009||Email To Friend Print Version
The head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Ellen Margrethe Løj has re-assured Liberians that UNMIL will continue to work with the Government of Liberia to ensure the consolidation of peace and security in the country, even though its numerical strength is being scaled down.
“And let me say that while we are in drawdown mode in the Mission, it does not mean we are scaling down our mandated activities in support of the Government and people of Liberia,” she declared in the Liberian port city of Buchanan, as she decorated 700 Ghanaian peacekeepers with United Nations peacekeeping medals for their contribution to UN peace efforts in Liberia.
“Certainly, our work is not yet done,” she stressed, pointing out that “the peace and security need to be consolidated, and security institutions need to be rebuilt and strengthened.” Ms Løj called on fellow peacekeepers to redouble their efforts, emphasizing that the drawdown phase only “means a different approach to our collaboration with our Liberian counterparts, in which they are in the driver’s seat although we remain by their side.”
The UN envoy noted that Liberia had begun to display signs of economic recovery with Grand Bassa County, which hosts several foreign companies, being the hub of the recovery. She said though the current global economic crisis might slow down investments and capital inflow into the country, Grand Bassa provincial capital, Buchanan was poised to serve as a catalyst to propel Liberia’s recovery process.
Turning to the Ghanaian peacekeepers, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative praised them for the professional manner in which they carried out their duties, performing overarching tasks that lend to the fulfillment of UNMIL’s primary mandate of maintaining a stable and peaceful environment in Liberia . “The Ghanaian battalion is known for its quick response to hostile situations and, in various instances, has greatly assisted in the arrest of criminals such as robbers and drug traffickers.” Ms. Løj also applauded the Ghanaian peacekeepers for building the capacity of Liberians by upgrading the skills of the medical staff of the Buchanan Central Hospital and providing teaching assistance to school children.
The UN envoy used the occasion, to once again, urge UNMIL staff to respect and uphold the UN Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and abuse, cautioning that she would not hesitate to hold commanders and senior managers responsible for any misconduct, just as she expected the Secretary-General to hold her responsible. “We must work individually and collectively to guard against such activities,” she emphasized.
Later, in a meeting with Grand Bassa County Superintendent Madam Julia Duncan-Cassell and heads of security agencies of the county, Ms. Løj said there was the need for the county law enforcement agencies to draw up their own strategic plans, taking into account their unique circumstances and priorities, to enable the international community to identify the most effective ways of supporting them. In a response to a request by the county police chief for assistance to deal with drug trafficking and money laundering, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General said UNMIL would continue to work with the Liberian security agencies to ensure that Liberia does not become a transit point for illegal drugs.
Dignitaries present at the Medal Parade ceremony included Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Rule of Law, Ms. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, UNMIL Force Commander, Lieutenant-General ATM Alam Zahirul and his deputy Major-General Carl Modey, Director of Mission Support, Mr. Stephen Lieberman, UNMIL Deputy Police Commissioner, Gautam Sawang, Sector A Commander, Brigadier-General Ezekiel Olu-Olofinmuagu, Chief of Administration, Stephani Scheer, Ghanaian Contingent Commander, Colonel Fuseini Iddrisu, visiting Deputy Commandant of the Military Academy and Training School of Ghana, Brigadier-General Jo-Sylvester Kwame Nkrumah, World Bank Country Manager in Liberia, Ohene Owusu Onyanin and Grand Bassa County Superintendent, Madam Julia Duncan-Cassell.