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Ban Ki-moon recommends one-year extension of UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia

16 March 2007 Despite numerous successes made in Liberia to bolster peace and further economic progress, the impoverished West African country still faces many obstacles including poverty, high unemployment and incapacitated public services, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report, calling on the Security Council to extend the UN peacekeeping mission there for another year.

Although “Liberia continues to make steady progress in consolidating peace, stability and democracy, as well as in promoting economic recovery,” Mr. Ban says in his latest report to the Council on the situation in Liberia, the country “still faces significant reconstruction and development challenges arising from 14 years of civil strife.”

In response, Mr. Ban recommends that the mandate of the mission, known as UNMIL, which is set to expire at the end of this month, be extended until 31 March 2008.

The report also points to the threat to stability stemming from high unemployment, including among former combatants and deactivated security personnel. The threat must be addressed, Mr. Ban says, through labour-intensive employment opportunities in the short term, with sustainable jobs being created by a revitalized economy in the long term.

The country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is being hindered in its progress by management, personnel and budgetary difficulties, and “these problems need to be resolved on an urgent basis so that the Commission can continue its valuable work of ensuring lasting peace in Liberia,” Mr. Ban writes.

The Secretary-General warns that the “unpredictable situations” in Liberia’s neighbours such as Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea also threatened the country’s stability. He recommends continued cooperation among UNMIL, the UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and the Sierra Leonean and Guinean armed forces to patrol border areas as well as urging relevant Governments to promote peaceful relations among them.

Mr. Ban calls on the international community to continue its support of Liberia, which is seeking to rebuild after the civil war that killed almost 150,000 people and sent 850,000 more fleeing across its borders.

He lauds the enthusiasm international partners displayed at the Liberia Partners’ Forum, a consortium of donors, which met last month, and stresses the importance of assisting the Government in institution and capacity building. Mr. Ban also says that international help is crucial in helping the State reassert control over its natural resources, including its rubber plantations which are among the world’s largest.

UNMIL was established in 2003 to support Liberia’s ceasefire and peace process, and currently has over 15,200 uniformed personnel, along with around 500 international civilian personnel, almost 1,000 local staff and 220 UN Volunteers.

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