The Acting Head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Moustapha Soumaré, says it is now time to strengthen peace in Liberia by helping Liberians take charge of their own security. “As you all know, UNMIL is now focusing attention on a transition to shift responsibility for security gradually and responsibly to national authorities,” he said.
Mr. Soumaré made these remarks at a ceremony on 22 March at Camp CARI in Gbarnga, Bong County, where he decorated 1,432 Bangladeshi peacekeepers with UN medals for their devoted service to UNMIL.
“The transition is about reconfiguring the Mission, and not that the UN is leaving Liberia,” the UN Envoy stressed. “UNMIL will continue to be involved in sustaining peace and security, including through building the capacity of Liberian security agencies as they prepare to progressively take over security responsibilities.”
Commenting on last month’s visit to Liberia of a UN Technical Assessment Mission, he said the mission conducted a thorough review of the situation in Liberia, and that its recommendations to the UN Secretary-General would form the basis of a report to the Security Council next month.
Mr. Soumaré lauded the Bangladeshi peacekeepers for their outstanding contributions to strengthening peace in Liberia. “Your relentless and vigorous patrolling along the borders has contributed greatly to alleviating cross-border challenges and has added to stability in the region,” he told the Bangladeshi soldiers. He also praised the peacekeepers for their commitment to intermission cooperation, citing the deployment of 144 officers last December to support legislative elections in Côte d’Ivoire.
While lauding the numerous undertakings by the Bangladeshi peacekeepers to build the capacity of Liberians, Mr. Soumaré singled out a program put together by the Bangladeshi engineers to train the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) in combat engineering, describing it as “very important as UNMIL prepares to enter the next phase of the transition process, gradually handing over greater security responsibilities to Liberian authorities.”
Among the dignitaries present at the ceremony were acting UNMIL Force Commander, Brig.-Gen. John Kwasie; OIC Mission Support, Vincent Smith; Military Chief of Staff, Brig.-Gen. Obidah Ethan; Sector B Commander, Brig.-Gen. Emadul Haque; Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia, Maj.-Gen. Suraj Abdurrahman; and Bong County Superintendent Lucia Herbert.