The last batch of military contingent and formed police units of the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL have ended peacekeeping duties to Liberia, effectively concluding the military phase of UNMIL’s operation in the country.
Troops from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, China, Pakistan and Ireland received their respective countries’ flags each from the Special Representative of the Secretary General Farid Zarif at a formal ceremony held on Monday, 5 February inside the Pan African Plaza compound, UNMIL Headquarters in Monrovia, symbolizing end of their respective duties in the mission.
President George Manneh Weah, who graced the occasion, expressed gratitude to men and women of the various contingents of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) whose tremendous efforts helped in restoring peace and democratic governance to Liberia.
“I express my gratitude to UNMIL for the level of peace and stability and many thanks to those soldiers who left their countries and families to restore peace and help improve our Armed Forces of Liberia. On a personal note, as President of Liberia, when you return to your families, please secretly or openly say President Weah extends his thanks and gratitude for being so patient while you were away,” the President told the departing peacekeepers.
Earlier, SRSG Farid Zarif, said, “This event signifies an important benchmark in the history of the United Nations in West Africa, and the mission in Liberia has been successfully completed with honor and professionalism. While my colleagues in uniform are writing the last pages of the peacekeeping operations here, Liberians and their leaders have started writing the first pages of a brand new chapter in their history, and the fact that the current circumstances allow the departure of our last contingent indicates that Liberia has reached the point where they feel absolutely confident of their future.”
Indeed, Liberia has come a very long way from the period of carnage and destruction to democratic elections and stability under civilian rule in the past 12 years that witnessed the historic transfer of power from first female President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to President George Manneh Weah, former soccer legend, UNICEF Ambassador, and senator.
This was made possible by the enormous sacrifices of the United Nations, ECOWAS, African Union and the rest of the international community. Members countries committed troops some of whom lost their lives here for the single purpose of seeing Liberia rise again after bloody civil war that took the lives of over 500,000 thousands.
In the heat of hostilities in 2003, the Federal Republic of Nigeria sent a vanguard force to Monrovia, which effectively erected buffer between fighting men loyal to ex-President Charles Taylor and the rebels Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy or LURD to allow peace talks in Accra, Ghana. Subsequently on October 1, 2003, the UN mobilized 15,000-strong peacekeeping force for Liberia, the highest in the world at the time under the administrative leadership of first SRSG, Jacques Paul Klein.
The decision by the U.N. Security Council gave birth to UNMIL, which deployed in Liberia and conducted disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration of former fighters that prepared the country for elections and democratic governance.
Today, Liberians are enjoying the fruits of peaceful political transition, thanks to UNMIL that laid the foundation and consolidated the peace in the last 12 years or more. We are grateful for the sacrifices as Liberians, and would forever remain indebted to the men and women of the mission who lost their lives here, for the Holy Bible says, blessing are the peacemakers; they shall see the face of Almighty God.