Authorities at the Ministry of National Defense on Tuesday, 29 May presented a US$70,000.00 check to the wife and daughter of fallen Liberian soldier Ousmane Sheriff who was killed on a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali in 2017.
Army Chief of Staff Prince C. Johnson says the US$70,000.00 presented to the family of late Ousmane is his UN’s death benefit, following which Liberia’s permanent mission in New York, the United States will receive an award on behalf of the family next month from the Secretary General for Ousmane’s contribution to peace.
Corporal Sheriff Ousmane was the first Liberian soldier killed on deployment with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali. He was killed when a rebel group fired mortars into a UN base near Timbuktu.
Chief of Staff Johnson says what authorities at the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) have done is to ensure that whatever benefits are due a soldier, they will get it under this new administration.
The AFL says the late Ousmane laid down his life in a deadly mission to Bamako in Mali while serving his country as a peacekeeper from Liberia. The Army says it is saddened by this great lost, telling the family that the AFL is available and prepared to help in whatever way.
According to Chief of Staff Johnson, the sacrifice made by the late Ousmane cannot be overemphasized, noting that life is priceless and no amount of money could pay for the late soldier’s life.
“Life is priceless; no one can pay for the lost life. But we the members of the AFL … want in this public manner [to] express to you the family our condolences again,” he says.
He says the presentation of the check to the bereaved family marks the end of the UN death benefits, saying the presentation is a way of appreciating his services.
He assures that Ousmane’s wife Fatima Sheriff and his daughter that the AFL will always stand by them despite Ousmane not being around. He says they must not hesitate to contact the AFL when they are needed.
Touching generally on the army here, Chief of Staff Johnson says there is no institution that does not face challenges like the AFL, but notes that the AFL’s morale is high because government is working on the challenges and improvements are being made such as addressing issue of electricity, promotion and the welfare of men and women in the field.
He says the issue of recruitment is tied to budget, and when the army is ready to recruit, the public will be informed.Responding on behalf of the family, Mr. Boakai M. Sheriff extended thanks to the government of Liberia through the AFL for its numerous contributions since the death of their son.
He says today is another sad news for the family because it is expected that the child should bury the parent, but now it is the parents now burying their child.
He, however, says it is the will of Allah, thus expressing the family’s thanks to AFL, UN, and every member of the army for such a huge contribution.
For his part, Deputy Defense Minister for Administration Mr. T. Olandrus Dickson says they all are saddened, noting that no amount of benefit can bring back the lost soldier.
He says his sacrifice on the peacekeeping mission in Mali is a manifestation of how far the AFL has gone, recalling how several years back when countries in the region came during Liberia’s crisis to make their own sacrifice here.Today, he says the AFL is contributing to international peace, a manifestation of preparedness and readiness of the Liberian Army.
By Lewis S. Teh–Edited by Winston W. Parley