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UNMIL withdraws troops from Grand Gedeh

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The United Nations Mission in Liberia has resumed drawdown of its peacekeeping forces in Liberia, pulling back 80 peacekeeping soldiers from Grand Gedeh to Nimba County.

Speaking at a press briefing held Thursday at UNMIL headquarters on 1st Street in Monrovia, the Special Representative for the Secretary General (SRSG) to Liberia, Ms. Karin Landgren, said the decision to resume the troop’s drawdown reflects the progress Liberia has made in the past 12 years of peace.

The drawdown resumed on May 13, 2015 when 80 soldiers from Toe Town, Grand Gedeh County, withdrew to Tappita, Nimba County, where they were joined by additional soldiers transferred from Pleebo, Maryland County.

SRSG Landgren said the security plan for UNMIL’s transition is linked to the drawdown, and that the security transition plan focuses on Liberia taking over tasks still being performed by the Mission as well as addresses needs and capacity gaps across the security sector.

Among the tasks that are to be handed over to the Liberian authorities by 30 June 2016 are the destruction of explosive remnants of war, which will be transferred to the Armed Forces of Liberia, including security at the two largest prisons, which will be the responsibility of the Liberia National Police and BCR, and guard duty at several locations.

Ms Landgren also said UNMIL will continue to work closely with the Liberia National Police, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, the Armed Forces of Liberia, and the Ministry of Justice to strengthen capacity throughout the transition period.

“I commend Liberia for meeting the Security Transition Plan’s initial benchmarks, including by ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty on 21 April and taking over responsibility for marking and registering arms”, she said and added, “UNMIL will continue to work closely with the Liberia National Police, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, the Armed Forces of Liberia, and the Ministry of Justice to strengthen capacity throughout the transition period.”

However, she stressed that the success of the Security Transition Plan depends on many things, including effective police presence in all 15 counties and having the trust and cooperation of the people they serve.

“Earlier this week”, SRSG Landgren narrated, “I spoke to the security agencies and superintendents in Rivercess and Grand Bassa. I was told that the LNP in Rivercess are supposed to number 162, but they are 26. They don’t have a single functioning vehicle. They were frank with me, and they are also frustrated.”

The UNMIL boss said as the UN celebrates International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on May 29, she looks forward to seeing Liberians coming out to join the occasion in recognition of the contributions UN peacekeepers have made to Liberia over the past 12 years of peace, including those who lost their lives while serving in the Mission here. By Bridgett Milton – Edited by Jonathan Browne

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