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Acting Foreign Min receive’s new UN envoy

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Acting Foreign Minister, Mr. B. Elias Shoniyin, has received the Letters of Credence from the newly appointed Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG) of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Mr. Yacoub El Hillo.

Mr. Hillo, a Sudanese, will also serve as the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Liberia while carrying his duties.

According to a Foreign Ministry release, receiving the UN envoy at the Foreign Ministry on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Acting Minister Shoniyin, welcomed the new UN Resident Coordinator to Liberia, particularly highlighting the wealth of experience that he’s brought to the assignment.

Mr. Shoniyin, who also serves as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, emphasized the strong partner that the UNDP has been to Liberia especially in all of the country’s post-war development efforts, also highlighting the period of the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease. “The resilience and strong support from the UNDP and others gave us the courage and determination to fight back,” he said, adding, “That’s how we overcame and won the fight.”

Besides, the Acting Minister indicated the involvement of UNDP in a broad spectrum of the country’s development drive – governance, economic transformation, environment and climate change, private sector development, among others – which show that they have been part of every faucet of the country’s development efforts.

“Having you with the wealth of experience that you’ve come with,” Mr. Shoniyin said, “we believe that the partnership will further deepen.” He recalled Mr. Hillo’s stint in Liberia in the 1990s during his time with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

Mr. Shoniyin assured Mr. Hillo of Government’s fullest support, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Speaking earlier, Mr. Hillo said it was an honor to be designated by the UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon to return to Liberia after nearly 20 years and to join the UN team here, though serving in this new capacity.

He said he is delighted coming back to Liberia that is not at war, but rather focused on consolidating peace and developing in every aspect of life; noting that is an honor coming back and seeing the United Nations becoming a more robust partner for the government and people of Liberia.

Reflecting on his last assignment in Syria, plagued by a vicious war and coming to Liberia that is no longer at war, Mr. Hillo emphasized, “Peace is priceless.” He committed to working together with the government and people to consolidate the peace in Liberia and focus on development, progress and prosperity.

Touching on Liberia’s fight against Ebola, Mr. Hillo said, many people called it a setback because it was devastating and a difficult experience; however, it was also an opportunity for Liberians to show the world that they overcome challenges; adding that with support and partnerships Liberia defeated Ebola. “It is that spirit that I have returned to Liberia,” he said.
Mr. Hillo said defeating Ebola is a reminder to all of us that Liberia can do a lot of good things, stressing that role of the UNDP is to support the country’s development process working with reliable, predictable, and trusting partners to reinforce national ownership and leadership in all aspects of the mutual cooperation. However, he urged that the Government and the people of Liberia that must show the way. “Ours is to support,” he said.

He assured that the UN Country Team is going to assume greater responsibility in the partnership with Liberia as the UN Mission goes through the phases of adjustment and there is always the need for the Liberian Government and UN to work together to ensure that any of the issues that the mission has been focusing on will not be forgotten or fall through the cracks. “The UN is here for the long haul,” he assured.

Mr. Hillo succeeds Antonio Vigilante of Italy, who concluded his assignment a few months ago. Before his appointment to Liberia, he served as the UN Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Damascus, Syria from August 2013.

Prior to his assignment in Syria, he served at the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as Director for the Middle East and North Africa in Geneva, since November 2010.

Mr. Hillo was the UNHCR Regional Representative to the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (2009-2010); UNHCR Representative in Tanzania (2006-2009); Deputy Reconstruction and Humanitarian Coordinator, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in Baghdad (2005-2006); UNHCR Chief of Mission in Iraq (2003-2005); and he was the Chef de Cabinet of the High Commissioner’s Office at UNHCR Headquarters (2001-2002).

He also served in a number of other assignments since joining the United Nations in 1989, in his native Sudan (1989-1991), Kenya (1991-1993), Somalia (1993-1994), Tanzania (1994-1996), Liberia (1996-1999), and Geneva (1999-2002) and at the United Nations Headquarters in New York (2002-2003).

Mr. Hillo graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree (LLB) from the University of Khartoum, Sudan, in 1986. He was born in 1963 and is married with five children.-press release

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