New UN Envoy pledges continuing UN commitment to Liberia
Gbarnga, Liberia - The new United Nations Envoy to Liberia, Ms. Ellen Margrethe Løj, has pledged the continuing commitment of the UN to Liberia, to help the country get back on the path of freedom and prosperity. Ms. Løj was speaking in the central Liberian town of Gbarnga, Bong County, when she awarded UN peacekeeping medals to UNMIL Bangladeshi soldiers for their contribution to peace in Liberia.
"The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), and indeed the United Nations family, will continue to work hard and effectively in Liberia to help the government consolidate the hard-won gains we've all made," the new UN envoy declared in her first public engagement since assuming office on 17 January 2008.
Madam Løj, a veteran diplomat and development expert, identified development as a crucial element in efforts to sustainable peace in Liberia, pointing out that "there is a lot of peace-building work to be done to ensure that Liberia does not slide back into conflict and chaos."
The new Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) paid tribute to the work of her predecessor Mr. Alan Doss and his team for the excellent leadership they had offered over the past years. Stressing a continuity of purpose under her leadership, she assured Liberians that the drawdown or adjustment of UNMIL personnel presence in the country would be done in a "cautious, careful and well-calibrated manner," that enables Liberians to assume greater responsibility for the security and stability of the nation.
Commending the Bangladeshi peacekeepers for their assistance to the local communities, the UN Envoy noted, "You have been undertaking various humanitarian activities such as training for the youth, free medical care, donation to educational and vocational institutes and assistance in agriculture development." She officially opened one of these projects, the "Bangladesh Square," a recreational and educational complex made up of a vocational training centre and a children's playground, describing it as an "inspiring development space to the local youth and children."
Present at the ceremony were the Principal Deputy SRSG for Recovery & Governance, Mr. Jordan Ryan, Deputy SRSG for Rule of Law, Ms. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, UNMIL Force Commander, Lt.-Gen. Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor, UNMIL Deputy Force Commander, Maj.-Gen. Muhammad Tahir, UN Police Commissioner, Mohammed Alhassan, Sector III Commander Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Monawar Hossain, other senior UNMIL and government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, as well as legislators and local authorities of Bong and Nimba counties.
Later, at a meeting with County leadership, the new UN envoy praised the progress achieved in Liberia over the last four years, and called for a greater involvement of Liberians in the reconstruction of their country. Madam Løj expressed concern over the high number of rape cases, violent crimes and violent demonstrations. The SRSG urged the Liberian public to cooperate with the Government and UNMIL to deal effectively with these concerns.