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UNMIL leaves skeleton staff

The United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL says by 30 June 2016, its authorized military strength here will be reduced from 3,590 to 1,240 personnel while the authorized police strength will also be reduced from 1,515 to 606 personnel, respectively.

This latest outline released by the UN Peacekeeping mission here comes hours after the UN Security Council concluded decision to extend UNMIL’s mandate for another year which is expected to expire by 30 September 2016.

An UNMIL release says after 1 July 2016, the Mission will continue to support the Liberian security agencies to protect civilians in the event of a serious deterioration of the security situation that could risk a strategic reversal of peace and stability in the country, taking into account the Mission’s reduced capabilities and areas of deployment.

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The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Liberia, Mr. Farid Zarif welcomed the UN Security Council’s decision on Thursday, September 17 to extend UNMIL’s mandate until 30 September 2016.

“The Security Council’s decision to extend UNMIL’s mandate for another year demonstrates the international community’s commitment to fully support Liberia’s assumption of full security responsibilities by 30 June 2016,” said Mr. Zarif.

“In less than 10 months from today, it is expected that Liberia would have assumed responsibility for all aspects of its own security to ensure peace, stability and the protection of the civilian population, taking over the residual tasks still performed by the United Nations Mission in Liberia,” he continued.

The release quoting the UN Envoy here recounts from his introductory interactions with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and other top Government officials how he felt confident that the Liberian political and institutional leaders are firmly committed to taking all necessary measures for a seamless conclusion of the security transition process.

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“Such an effort requires active participation and contribution of all Liberians,” Mr. Zarif suggested. While renewing UNMIL’s mandate, the Security Council urged the Government of Liberia to intensify its efforts toward achieving progress on the transition of security responsibilities from UNMIL to the national authorities, particularly with regard to prioritizing and resourcing the critical gaps to facilitate a successful transition, improving the capacity and capability of the Liberia National Police and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, as well as strengthening the justice sector, including courts and prisons.

The Security Council highlighted the significant challenges that Liberia still faces, including continuing problems with violent crime. In particular, the Security Council expressed alarm over the high rates of sexual and gender-based violence, especially incidents targeting children.

Noting the overall progress toward restoring peace, security and stability in Liberia, the Security Council commended the enduring commitment of the people and Government of Liberia to consolidate peace and to advance democratic processes and institutions. The Council encouraged the Government to prioritize national reconciliation and economic recovery, to combat corruption, and to promote efficiency and good governance.

The Security Council stressed the importance of pursuing a national reconciliation and social cohesion strategy through concrete measures to promote national healing, justice and reconciliation at all levels and involving all Liberian stakeholders.

It also called on the Government of Liberia to continue to support the participation of women in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace-building, including in decision-making roles in post-conflict governance institutions and the broad range of reform efforts.

-Press Release

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