The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Liberia, Farid Zarif, has emphasized that freedom from want, equality and gender equality, equal opportunity access to justice and services coupled with sustainable management of shared resources are the goals that would ensure security in Liberia, not tanks and helicopters or well-equipped formed police units.
Speaking over the weekend at ceremony marking United Nations Day held at UNMIL Headquarters in the Pan African Plaza building in Monrovia, SRSG Zarif said the security of Liberians is now in the hands of Liberians themselves, and expressed absolute confident that they will be able to meet this challenge.
“Allow me to be clear here, UNMIL is not about to cut and run from Liberia”, he however assured. He said UNMIL will still have 1,240 military personnel and 606 police on the ground after 30 June 2016 to assist the Liberian security forces in an in extremis situation, adding “UNMIL shall step in to help Liberia deal with any situation which would threaten a strategic reversal of the progress we have made together.”
He praised President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Liberian people for beating back Ebola, a disease that frightened the entire world. “You were the worst hit country in the region, but by mobilizing your communities and pulling your resources together, you succeeded in being the first to defeat this common enemy. You had help from the UN and other partners in this room. But it was Liberians who were on the frontline, who carried the brunt of the struggle, and who made the ultimate sacrifice”, SRSG Zarif noted.
He said the United Nations was born out of hope that a better world could be built, following the destruction wrought by World War II. But half a century later, unfortunately, Liberia suffered 14 years of brutal civil conflict, and the United Nations family came to the aid of Liberia, and working hand in hand with the Liberian leaders and people helped in maintaining peace over the past 12 years.
The SRSG said the UN Security Council recognized this achievement when it set the deadline of 30 June 2016 for Liberia to assume full responsibility for all facets of its security. “The United Nations family will remain a strong partner of the Liberian people. Together, we will make progress on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which were launched this year.”
He hailed Liberia’s contributions to the UN and Liberians serving in the United Nations in many capacities around the world, including the Armed Forces of Liberia currently serving peace mission in Mali.
“We are all partners in making the world a better place. Let us all celebrate together our collective 70th birthday”, SRSG Zarif concluded.
By Jonathan Browne