By Morrison O.G. Sayon
The strength of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has dropped from its previous 15,000 strong men to 4,200, the Mission has disclosed in Monrovia.
Addressing the regular press briefing of the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs & Tourism, UNMIL Chief of Public Information, Isabelle Abric disclosed that as of July 2012-January 2013 UNMIL has approximately 8,500 uniformed personnel out of which around 7000 are military troops while the remaining comprise of UN Police, Formed Police units, Staff officers and Military observers.
Madam Abric said other UNMIL Staff in the country include around 470 International civilian personnel, 993 local staff and over 200 UN Volunteers. Abric said UNMIL’s latest mandate according to Resolution 2066 (20l2) is that the Mission will continue to support the Government of Liberia to consolidate peace and stability in the country and protect civilians.
She said UNMIL will continue to support the Government’s efforts, as appropriate, to achieve a successful transition of complete security to the Liberia National Police by strengthening LNP’s capabilities to manage existing personnel, improve training programs to expedite their readiness to assume security responsibilities, and coordinate these efforts with all partners, including the Government of Liberia, national police leadership and donor partners.
Isabelle Abric added that the Mission will work with the Liberian Government for progress in the reform and restructuring of the Justice sector; support the people and the Government of Liberia in taking forward identified priorities, including national reconciliation, constitutional reform and decentralization, while enhancing support for security sector and rule of law reforms.
“The Mission will support the Government of Liberia to continue to combat impunity for perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence and provide redress, support and protection for victims, including through the strengthening of national police capacity in this area and by raising awareness of existing national legislation on sexual violence,” the UNMIL Chief of Public Information averred.
She noted that UNMIL will ensure regular interaction with the civilian population to raise awareness and understanding about the Mission’s mandate and activities; enhance inter-mission cooperation with UNOCI for the stabilization of the border area, including through the development of a shared, strategic vision and plan, in support of the Liberian and Ivorian authorities; continue to coordinate and collaborate with the Peace-building Commission (PBC) and support timely completion of the justice and security hubs.
Madam Abric pointed out that the extension of UNMIL’s mandate to September 2013 represents a strong commitment by the UN to maintain peace and security in Liberia. She said on 17 September 2012, the Security Council decided to decrease UNMIL’s military strength by about 4,200 personnel, in three phases between August 2012 and July 2015.
She added that after this drawdown, the Mission’s military strength will be at about 3,750 personnel by July 2015, whose presence throughout the country will be determined by ongoing assessments conducted in conjunction with the Government of Liberia.
Among other things Madam Abric noted, “While the Council decided to decrease UNMIL’s military strength, it also approved the recommendation made by a Technical Assessment Mission, conducted in February 2012, to increase the Mission’s authorized number of formed police units by three; these units, each of which is comprised of 140 police, are equipped to respond to public disorder incidents. Those 420 police officers will be located strategically in counties where the Mission’s military presence is being decreased. They will provide backup to government actors providing security in those areas, as well as to ensure that UNMIL is able to quickly and effectively respond to incidents that could cause major challenges to government institutions in these areas.”