(L-R) UNMIL Head of Force, Evan Kotov and BWI Principal Atty. Fumba Harris Tarnue
Ahead of the June 30 deadline for the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), UN peacekeeping troops assigned in Kakata Margibi County have withdrawn from the county. UNMIL officially left the county on Tuesday, May 17, turning over its facilities to the authorities of Margibi and the Administration of the Booker T. Washington Institute or B.W. I. The facilities include one 36KVA generator, more than 200ft. long tower, toilets, conference hall, chairs, and reservoirs, among others.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, the Head of Field Office of UNMIL in Kakata, Margibi County, Ivan Kotov, said the troops enjoyed working with the county authorities, Civil Society Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, community leaders and the entire citizenry, among others.
He stated that since the force took up assignment in Kakata on the 3rd of December 2008, it had been working with the citizens, making Margibi as their home. Mr. Kotov indicated that the Margibians are their family and it is with sad feelings that it has come to the situation where UNMIL has to hand over its compound to Superintendent John Buway and the entire authority of Margibi County, including the Administration of the Booker Washington Institute with whom they have cooperated for so long.
“Since we took assignment in Kakata on 3rd December 2008, we had been working with the citizens and we made the County as our home and the people we worked with became our family and it is with feelings that today it has come to the situation where we have come to handover the UNMIL Compound to the Superintendent and the entire authority of Margibi County”, Mr. Kotov narrated.
He expressed thanks and gratitude to Superintendent John Z. Buway and the BWI Principal whom he closely worked with and promised to be in close contact with them while still in Liberia. For his part, Superintendent Buway thanked UNMIL for working along with them in maintaining peace in the county.
Commenting on B.W.I., the Superintendent said the fact that the institute embraced UNMIL, he thinks it is good and only fair that the current leadership appeals for some of the facilities and equipment to be turned over to them.
Supt. Buway said it’s good that everyone supports the institution because it is molding the minds of young people thru vocational education/training despite limited. He further said when the peacekeepers first entered the county; B.W.I. hosted them and provided its dormitory and facilities for their usage.
The Superintendent however disclosed that the county will gown Mr. Kotov as paramount chief and give him the highest honor before he leaves Liberia. Also speaking, the Principal of the Booker T. Washington Institute, Atty. Fumba Harris Tarnue, said when the institution made the request, his administration knew that UNMIL supports education and that is part of its mission here so there would have been no way to do otherwise than turning over the facilities to the B.W.I. family to be used for the training and education of Liberian youths, which is critical to national development.
Atty. Tarnue said Education and training is not an issue to debate about because it is a matter of national security that has been proven all over the country. He said many young people in Liberia, who don’t have employable skills and are not educated pose most of the security threat to the nation.
The BWI Principal averred that what the nation and its people need to do is to provide employable skills for young people in order to enable them find livelihood and be able to support national development, while enhancing their own livelihood as individual citizen.
Attorney Tarnue noted that this is what the United Nations has done by allowing B.W.I. to take possession of its campsite because when the institute gets additional facility, it will begin to launch some new programs.
According to him, B.W.I. is dreaming of various skill training programs adding, “We are already in contact with partners to see how they can help develop different careers for the young people of this Country, so this site will be very useful for that purpose and that at least we have facility that we can just improve on and make better use of it for the benefit of the young people of this Country”.
By Ramsey N. Singbeh, in Margibi-Editing by Jonathan Browne