The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Ms Karin Landgren, has concluded a two-day visit to Grand Gedeh, where she met with the local administration, Liberian security agencies and the UN family in the County.
During a meeting with the County Superintendent, Hon. Peter L. Solo and other members of the county administration, the UN Envoy expressed her appreciation for the collaborative efforts towards maintaining a peaceful environment in the Grand Gedeh extending thanks to the population for having been such generous hosts to their sisters and brothers from Cote d’Ivoire who sought refuge following the recent post election crisis in their nation.
Reacting to fears voiced on possible security threats in the region, the SRSG urged caution in dealing with unsubstantiated rumours, saying, “Between the United Nations and the Government of Liberia, we will look closely at this question of security in the county, including the civilian nature of the refugee camps. It’s important that we work together to maintain that,” she said. The SRSG also noted that the Government of Liberia was committed to the establishment of LNP details at the refugee camps.
SRSG Landgren was positive about the security reinforcement efforts she witnessed across south eastern Liberia along the border with neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire.
“There has been a lot of attention and concerns over the border situation, and my impression is that the Liberian security forces themselves are stepping up to the task of security in this region,” she remarked after meeting with the Joint Task Force Command of a campaign launched in June this year by the national security forces to secure the country’s 700-km long border with Cote d’Ivoire. “
Her meeting with the Joint Task Force Command of Operation Restore Hope was one stop in an itinerary that started on 22 August with the award of UN medals to members of the Indian Formed Police Unit 2 in Zwedru. At the Medal Parade, the SRSG commended the contingent for its high level of professionalism, dedication to service and continued support to peace and development in Liberia.
“You have remained vigilant and helped to keep Liberia’s communities safer, allowing the Liberian people to focus on rebuilding their future. In doing this, you have demonstrated a great sense of responsibility and professionalism in carrying out your duties in UNMIL,” she told the 119-strong contingent.
Reflecting on prospects in UNMIL’s transition phase that will include the handing over of more security responsibilities to Liberian authorities, the SRSG emphasized that this is a gradual process that requires time and preparation. “As the transition process continues, we need to redouble our support to building the capacity of Liberian security agencies,” she declared.
SRSG Landgren also visited the Ivorian refugee camp at PTP on the outskirts of Zwedru. There she commended the performance of the camp’s school, which recorded the best performance in the First School Leaving Certificate (CEPE) exams recently conducted for refugee children across southeastern Liberia, under the curriculum of Cote d’Ivoire. She met with representatives of the refugees who, amongst other requests, called on the UN to help enforce security at the border as well as in Grand Gedeh and in the camp itself.
The refugee representatives also called for the provision of secondary school education and vocational training so that refugee children could aspire beyond primary education. Above all, the camp leader urged the SRSG to lead rallying the international community behind efforts to help bring about stability in Cote d’Ivoire.
The SRSG was accompanied on the visit by UNMIL Force Commander, Maj. General Muhammad Khalid, Acting Police Commissioner Mr. Sajjad Afzal Afridi and other senior officials.