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MRU, UNOWAS hold security meeting

The Mano River Union (MRU) in collaboration with the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) held a Sub-regional Meeting on Peace and Security recently, in Freetown, Sierra Leone to discuss the role of the Joint Border Security and Confidence-Building Units (JBSCBUs) at various border points.

According to a release from the Ministry of Defense, the meeting brought together a number of stakeholders in the peace process of MRU, members of the peace and Security Technical Commission, members of the JBSCBUs, relevant ministries, the office of the Resident Coordinators of the United Nations System and UNDP.

In her opening remarks, Madam Medina Wesseh, Secretary General of the MRU, said the meeting will focus on the role of the Joint Border Security Confidence Building Units and draw lessons from the current status of these units. She adds that the meeting will analyze how to improve and make border units fully operational on a sustained basis.

According to Mr. Allen S. Charleson who represented the Ministry of National Defense of Liberia, emphasis was made on the need to harness efforts for a strong relationship between MRU and UNOWAS, foster cooperation in promoting peace and stability as a mandate, maintain the consciousness of added value to sustain peace in the MRU, nurture, invest, and sustain relationship, while ensuring peaceful elections.
Liberia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone (MRU countries) must establish legally vibrant institutions and prevent threats to peace and stability at borders.
The region is challenged to build peace and stop looking for peacekeepers, especially during and after election.

Also, Mr. Charleson noted the efforts by the Sub-region since 2008 towards consolidating peace, security and democracy. But he alluded to the existence of major peace and security related issues that continue to post unequivocal challenges to member states.

As a way of addressing the new forms of threats to peace through youth engagement in cliques and gangs, terrorism, maritime piracy, migration, external threats, the persistence of increase in crimes, challenges of socio-political crises in economic governance, and the post-election violence in the sub-region, the meeting reviewed the “Revised Fifteenth Protocol of the Mano River Union.

This includes cooperation on peace, security, and defense, and the “MRU Operational Plan on Peace and Security and the Cross-border Security Strategy”.The four-day strategic meeting was climaxed by the signing of “A communiqué on “MRU- UNOWAS Strategic Framework of Cooperation for Peace and Security” and a “Memorandum of Understanding between the Mano River Union and the United Nations Development Program.

Lamenting further, the Ministry’s representative acknowledged the crosscutting challenges on peace, security and terrorism faced by the Mano River Union (MRU) and the Sahel regions, though each of these sub-regions faces its own peculiarities with varying degrees of destabilizing implications for the whole of West Africa.

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The MRU and Sahel Regions, in addition to the well-known vulnerabilities like severe drought, climate variability, lack of essential services, citizenship issues, ethnic religious cleavages, drug trafficking and other types of trafficking, are now facing worsening security deterioration.

Liberia is a founding member of the MRU and shares border with all member countries. Hence, the Ministry of National Defense as one of the institutions involved with providing security for the region recognizes the importance of the JBSCBUs as major crisis prevention and management mechanisms.

It promises relentless efforts with internal and regional security institutions in ensuring democratic consolidation by encouraging the conditions to prevent, or where possible avoid pre and post-electoral crises that undermine the stability of the sub-region.–Press release

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