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Liberia: UN mission drawdown designed to foster stability, envoy says

6 September 2007 The planned drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) is designed to foster stability in the country, which has consolidated democracy in recent years following a devastating civil war, the world body’s senior envoy there said today.

Addressing the Security Council in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative, Alan Doss, said the proposed reduction of the mission’s military and police components was “designed to minimize threats to territorial integrity and to deal with any serious disruption” to Liberia’s internal stability.

At the same time, he cautioned that security in the country remains a paramount concern. The Secretary-General’s latest report recommends that the drawdown of the military component be undertaken in three stages in “a gradual manner to avoid creating instability,” Mr. Doss told the closed-door meeting, according to a news release from UNMIL.

This should provide the “time and space needed for Liberia to address these challenges and for the Government to progressively assume full responsibility for national security,” he noted.

The Government of Liberia must also reinforce its ongoing efforts to promote reconciliation, develop accountable and effective security forces, carry out economic reforms and tackle corruption, as well as strengthen the rule of law, promote social equity and the rights of women and children, and consolidate national control over natural resources, the envoy stressed.

The Secretary-General has recommended that the drawdown for both the military and police component take place in multiple stages from the current level of 15,200, with 9,750 remaining on the ground by the end of 2010.

Mr. Doss also informed the Council that the Government was working with UNMIL and the UN country team to tackle the prevalence of gender-based violence, especially rape, which was one of the “most frequently committed serious crimes in Liberia.”

On the critical aspect of job creation, Mr. Doss said UNMIL had worked with other agencies and the Government on joint road rehabilitation programmes, creating about 31,000 temporary jobs for mainly unskilled workers, including ex-combatants, in rural areas. Plans were also underway to complete the reintegration programme to prepare former fighters for work, he noted.

UNMIL was established in September 2003 to support the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the peace process; protect UN staff, facilities and civilians; bolster humanitarian and human rights activities; and assist in national security reform, including national police training and formation of a new, restructured military.

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