October 27th, 2006 07:46 EST
Liberia: top UN envoy calls on officers to work harder to strengthen peace and stability
The senior United Nations envoy in Liberia has called on the mission’s senior military officers to work harder to strengthen peace and stability as the West African country consolidates its transition to democracy from 14 years of civil war.
“We cannot allow anyone to undermine the country’s peace and stability, which has been achieved at such high cost,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative Alan Doss said at an award ceremony yesterday where 164 officers and military observers of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) received peacekeeping medals.
“We must continue working to promote and protect human rights everywhere in this nation, we must continue working to curb crime and make communities safe, we must continue working to rebuild roads and create jobs across the country,” he told the recipients, who perform specialized tasks behind the scenes to ensure the smooth running of the mission’s operations.
In commending the military observers, Mr. Doss said: “They are our eyes and ears; they provide regular assessments on security and public order, cross border movements, community disputes, weapons collection, unexploded ordinance, road and bridge conditions, illegal traffic of timber and rubber.”
He noted that the staff officers are the administrative backbone of UNMIL’s military management, working as construction engineers, medical doctors, logistics experts, supply specialists, military analysts, personnel managers, trainers and legal advisers, providing support for a 15,000-strong multi national force.
He stressed the need for senior officers to remain vigilant and careful with their behaviour so that nothing is done to undermine the trust that the people of Liberia have in UNMIL.
“Liberians expect us to help them recover from the trauma and pain of conflict. We must not add to their suffering. This is why we must all scrupulously respect the Secretary-General’s policy of zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse,” Mr. Doss said.
UNMIL, established by the Security Council three years ago to support the peace process after a ceasefire between the warring factions, played a multifaceted role in overseeing Liberia’s transition from the ravages of a disastrous civil war, culminating in the democratic election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf less than a year ago.