The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), has honoured the contributions of Ghanaian peacekeepers and re-assured Liberians of its continued work with the Government of Liberia to ensure the consolidation of peace and security in the country, even though its numerical strength was being scaled down.
Head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Ellen Margrethe Loj declared; “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 made this declaration 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.
A statement from the Mission in Accra quoted Ms. Loj as saying; “Certainly, our work is not yet done,” pointing out that, “the peace and security need to be consolidated, and security institutions need to be rebuilt and strengthened.”
Ms Loj 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.”
She praised the peacekeepers for the professional manner in which they carried out their duties, performing overarching tasks that lend to the fulfilment 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. Loj 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 urge the 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.
Among those present at the ceremony were 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.
The Others were 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.