A year from, Liberia is expected assume responsibility for all aspects of its own security – taking over the residual tasks still performed by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
“The Security Council’s decisions to resume the UNMIL drawdown and set 30 June 2016 as the deadline for security transition demonstrates the progress Liberia has made in 12 years of peace,” said Karin Landgren, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Liberia.
The Government’s comprehensive security transition plan focuses on the handover of tasks still performed by UNMIL, she said, also noting that it also addresses capacity gaps across the sector. She indicated that the residual tasks include the disposal of unexploded remnants of war whenever required, guard protection for Liberia’s President and other dignitaries, security at major prisons, and cash escorts.
“Early benchmarks in the plan have been met, such as the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty, the training of personnel for arms-marking and monitoring, and the establishment of a Joint Implementation Group comprising top Gov22ernment, UN and diplomatic officials, to monitor progress in the g22overnment’s security transition plan,” she added.
2“The Government continues to increase its engagement on security, but faster progress will be needed to meet several critical benchmarks,” said Landgren, adding: “among the next steps Liberia’s partners hope to see are the adoption of vital legislation, such as the Police Act, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization Act and the Firearms and Ammunition Act.”
“UNMIL and other partners are also looking for greater clarity from the government on the financing of the security transition plan,” said Landgren. “I am confident that Liberians will be able to look back with pride at having assumed full responsibility for their own security,” she noted.
Suspended last year due to the Ebola crisis, the UNMIL drawdown resumed on 13 May. By September 2015, the number of UNMIL military personnel will be reduced to about 3,400.
“Throughout this transition, UNMIL will continue to support the Government to strengthen its security capacities, and to move forward related reforms that are essential for long-term peace and stability,” Landgren reflected, noting: “the ongoing de-concentration of services to the counties is an important step in these efforts.”
SRSG Landgren underlined that no date has been set for UNMIL’s closure. “The timing of UNMIL’s closure will be decided by the UN Security Council in due course. Even when UNMIL leaves, the UN will be present in Liberia through its agencies, funds and programs,” she said.
Commenting on the recent reappearance of confirmed cases of Ebola this week, Landgren said she was confident in Liberia’s ability again to reach zero cases.
“We have known all along that there was a very real chance of recurrence here as long as Ebola remains in the region. What we can see now is the willing cooperation of Liberia’s communities and a level of preparedness on the part of authorities that was unimaginable a year ago.”
The SRSG spoke recently as she concludes her tenure in Liberia. George Barpeen edited