The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia, Farid Zarif, on Friday lauded the people and Government of Liberia for reassuming full control of the country’s security. The achievement is testament to the progress Liberians have made in the past 13 years of peace, he said.
“Today, 1 July 2016, is a historic day – the day Liberia reassumed full responsibility for its own security,” said the UN envoy as UNMIL ceremonially handed over security at a function held at Monrovia City Hall. “This achievement is a culmination of the step-by-step rebuilding of Liberia’s security institutions almost from scratch, following the long years of civil conflict.”
UNMIL deployed in Liberia in October 2003. In September 2015, Security Council resolution 2239 affirmed the world’s confidence that Liberia had made sufficient progress to assume full responsibility for security and set 30 June 2016 as the deadline.
“Over several years, Liberia’s security institutions took on ever more responsibilities as the Mission drew down from its peak of more than 16,000 uniformed personnel in 2007 to the 1,240 military and 606 police personnel that remain here today,” said the SRSG.
“All ten of the residual security responsibilities that were still being performed by UNMIL have been handed over to Liberian security institutions, which have executed their duties in an exemplary manner.” The SRSG reminded guests that UNMIL is not leaving Liberia with the completion of the security transition. “In September, a high-powered multi-disciplinary team from the UN headquarters will carry out a comprehensive assessment of the situation in Liberia,” he said. “Based on this assessment, the Secretary-General will provide recommendations to the Security Council by 15 November, on which basis the Council will determine the Mission’s future in December.”
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recognized the many partners that made the security transition possible. “Specifically, I want to thank members of the justice, security and rule of law sector; UNMIL, with all its gallant men and women who have stood by our people during these past years; our bi-lateral partners who have given their best for the peace and stability of our country; and to all government officials. Thank you all for achieving this milestone,” she said.
Both President Sirleaf and the SRSG recognized that sustained commitment is needed to build on the gains made in the security sector and to create the conditions for long-term peace and security in Liberia.
A cross-section of Liberian society attended the ceremony, including members of the Cabinet and the Legislature, heads of the security agencies, civil society and religious leaders and representatives of political parties, as well as members of the international community.