President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, on Monday, April 6, received in audience the chair of the United Nations Peace-building Commission, Ambassador Olof Skoog, and delegation during a courtesy call.
According to an Executive Mansion release, Mr. Skoog, who is also Swedish Ambassador to the United Nations, was led to the Liberian leader’s temporary office at the Foreign Ministry by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to Liberia, Karen Landgren.
President Sirleaf welcomed Ambassador Skoog to Liberia and congratulated him for his preferment as the new head of the UN Peace-building Commission and for accepting to take up the assignment and the mission to Liberia. Ambassador Skoog is also chair of the Peace-building Commission’s Country Specific Configuration on Liberia.
“I welcome you to Liberia and we are ready to talk about where Liberia stands with regards to UNMIL’s transition and how we can accelerate the implementation of the transition plan because we are very pleased with it,” President Sirleaf pointed out; stressing further that her Government have a renewed commitment to the new UNMIL transition plan because it will move the peace-building process forward.
The Liberian leader also used the occasion to update the visiting head of the UN Peace-building Commission about the security hub concept which was adopted in Liberia a few years ago and pointed out that the operational scope of the existing hub needs to be reviewed and the finalization of plans for hubs two and three need completion.
President Sirleaf informed Ambassador Skoog that Liberia was already in the process of implementing its five-year development plan- the Agenda for Transformation, when Ebola emerged and as the virus is being brought under control, government is still very much focused and on course with its implementation.
“We are keen on copying the elements of success from the Ebola crisis to our current development challenges with the restoration of the country healthcare system remaining key,” she stressed; noting that the three most affected countries are finalizing a Regional Recovery Plan, but Liberia has also worked on its own National Economic Recovery Plan that takes into consideration the specific needs of the country.
The Chairman of the UN Peace-building Commission, Ambassador Skoog, said he was honored to be visiting Liberian and meeting with President Sirleaf. He reflected on his first visit to Liberia in 1997.
He acknowledged the change and progress made thus far and commended the Liberian leader for her leadership. “I am even more pleased about the way you, Madam President and your Government handled the Ebola crisis and wish to extend sympathy and condolence on behalf of the Peace-building Commission for the lives lost and the pains endured,” he said.
Ambassador Skoog indicated that taking up the role of the chair of the UN Peace-building Commission as a Swedish national was key considering Liberia’s long standing relations with Sweden and requested a reflection on the Ebola recovery process to consolidate the peace-building process in Liberia.
He informed the Liberian President that he will join others in Washington D.C. during the Spring Meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to highlight – issues in Liberia and promised to commence talks with the UN Security Council on Liberia’s peace-building efforts.
Ambassador Skoog pointed out that Liberia was blessed with a donor community that is very active and supportive and recommended that the plans on how to handle future epidemics and that women and children’s right be prioritized in the peace-building process.