Liberia’s President George Manneh Weah has given special recognition to the services of the great men and women of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) peacekeeping force, saying “Liberians will forever remain grateful” to them for their bravery and service here.
“I want to express gratitude to the United Nations Mission in Liberia for their longstanding support to our peace and stability,” Mr. Weah said Monday, 5 February at UNMIL Plaza in Monrovia during a farewell program for a small size of UN military and police force that is due to depart the country shortly following a transition of security responsibility from peacekeepers to national security operatives during the drawdown process.
The farewell ceremony signals the end to a journey that started with a 15,000 combat and combat support troop and about 1500 UN police and Formed Police Unit, following its transition to a small residual capacity in preparation for the Mission’s closure. A UN official commending the troops here says the military force of the Mission lost 138 personnel, while the police lost 21 persons during their stay here.
The UN peacekeepers’ drawdown process began during former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s regime, but a small force was maintained here to back up national security aimed at ensuring a smooth political transition of power between civilian authorities for the first time in 73 years.
Mr. Weah who took over from Mrs. Sirleaf late last month says he is grateful and humble to be at the program marking the departure of UNMIL peacekeeping mission, thanking the peacekeepers for their hard work and sacrifices made over the years.
On a personal note, Mr. Weah says when the peacekeepers return to their families, whether secretly or openly, they should say to their families that the President of Liberia extends his thanks and gratitude for being so patient while they were away.
He wishes the peacekeepers a blessed family reunion, while also expressing hope that they will always remember the great people of Liberia. As for the UNMIL service men and women that will be staying in Liberia, President Weah urges them to remember that Liberia is their home and his government pledges its unflinching cooperation and support to their mission here.
UN Special Envoy to Liberia, SRSG Farid Zarif praised the sacrifices that have been made to see the completion of the UN’s mission in Liberia successfully with honor and professionalism.
He said the mission stood by the people and government of Liberia and ready to walk the long distance from the immediate days of the post conflict to today’s peaceful and stable Liberia.
He notes that it took 14 years and a lot of men and women to accomplish this achievement, but acknowledges that this success belongs to the political leaders of Liberia, leaders of civil society and to the success of the institutions of Liberia, mainly the security institutions.
SRSG Zarif notes that the UN shares in the pride because it managed some of the resources to come to Liberia at a time when the … the country was in disarray, when the institutions of the state were collapsed, the economy in a terrible shape and the nation was divided.
By Winston W. Parley