UN Envoy Ellen Margrethe Løj has commended officers and members of the Pakistani Contingent serving the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for their unwavering commitment to the service of peace and stability in Liberia.
Ms. Løj made this statement on Friday, 4 February, when she honoured 2,909 UNMIL Pakistani military peacekeepers with UN peacekeeping medals for their support in maintaining peace and stability in Liberia.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) noted that at the request of the UN Security Council, UNMIL deployed the Pakistani Quick Reaction Force (QRF) to reinforce the UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).
Ms. Løj commended the Pakistani Government for the positive response to deploy members of the QRF, consistent with Pakistan’s long standing policy to contribute to world peace and security. The SRSG added that, “the Pakistan QRF were deployed to western Ivory Coast, in Man and Guiglo, to reinforce UNOCI’s peacekeepers on patrols, guard duties and other mandated activities for two months.” She thanked the troops and welcomed them back to Liberia.
Ms. Løj pointed out that the United Nations and the Government of Liberia are concerned about the situation in neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire, which has resulted in an influx of tens of thousands of refugees seeking safety in Liberia. The UN Envoy assured Liberians that, “The UN family is working closely with the Liberian authorities to alleviate some of the strain placed on local communities.”
She also spoke of the Flash Appeal which has been made for donors to provide funds to enable Liberia and the UN to better support Ivorians seeking refuge in the country. Ms. Løj praised the generosity and kindness of Liberians despite the difficult conditions for hosting their Ivorian neighbours. “You have opened your hearts and homes to help,” she said.
The SRSG further praised the Pakistani soldiers for patrolling the borders to ensure that peace is maintained in Liberia.
“Those serving in the border areas from Maryland to Grand Gedeh and Lofa counties have been playing an important role through their close partnership with the security authorities of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone,” Ms. Løj emphasized. She cited the peacekeepers’ engineering works, including road rehabilitation, runway maintenance and medical services which the SRSG noted have been crucial in setting Liberia on the path to rehabilitation and development.
Addressing the 7 Pakistani women members of the contingent who are medical professionals, Ms. Løj said that, though few in numbers, “you have played a vital role as healers.” She commended the medical professionals including the women, for treating over 1,200 Liberians in community clinics, free of charge.
The SRSG expressed her thanks and gratitude to the government and people of Pakistan for including these women as part of a larger peacekeeping force. “You are pioneers in the Pakistan Military; and you are also role models for all Liberian women; and in particular young girls who might want to join the military themselves,” she observed.
UNMIL Pakistani peacekeepers, who together make up more than one third of the total UNMIL Force, are deployed in Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Maryland, Grand Kru, Lofa, Bong, Bomi and Margibi counties.
Attending the medal award ceremony were the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Recovery and Governance, Mr. Moustapha Soumaré; Force Commander Major General Muhammad Khalid; Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Command officer-in-Charge, Maj.-Gen. Suraj Alao Abdurrahman; UN Police Commissioner Gautam Sawang; Director of Mission Support Hubert Price; and members of the Diplomatic Corps, as well as other senior UNMIL military officials.