13 September 2012

Liberia-Ivorian Border 'Wahala' Reaches Security Council Desk Again

Photo: Human Rights Watch
Ivorian soldiers long the Border.

In her progress report on Liberia to the Security Council Tuesday, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Karin Landgren, alarmed that security situation at the Liberian-Ivorian border was a threat to Liberia's peace and stability.

Madam Landgren said in order to maintain the progress the country has made over the years, a strong security institution has to be built that will adequately man the country's porous border.

UN Secretary General briefing the Council late August indicated that the security situation along the 700 kilometer shared border between Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire was of concern. Mr. Ban Ki-moon raised concern about the continuing instability in what he said was a volatile and porous area, and welcomed ongoing efforts by both Governments to develop a coordinated strategy with regards to cross-border movements, illicit trafficking, and organized crime.

In her report to the 15-member Security Council, Madam Landgren noted that the Liberian government continues to face security threats from cross border attacks reported on the Ivorian side, purportedly from Liberia.

Ms. Landgren said that with Liberia "on the verge of becoming a true success story, the UN Mission must walk a delicate balance: applauding successes and pulling back our support, while continuing to accompany Liberia in areas crucial to lasting peace."

The UN continues to provide security support to Liberia on a significant scale, noted Ms. Landgren. "But as the Secretary-General noted in this report, security measures alone will not create lasting stability in Liberia," she said.

"Security measures alone will not create lasting stability," noted Mr. Ban. "I would therefore underline the importance of devoting attention to reconciliation, confidence-building and the development and strengthening of State authority in border areas."

"Reinforcement of the national security sector should go hand in hand with national reconciliation and structural changes to address the underlying causes of past conflict," Ms. Landgren added. "Achieving this, however, will take both political commitment and financial resources."

On 8 June, seven peacekeepers serving with the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) and at least 27 civilians were killed in a series of attacks in the border region, prompting the Government of Liberia to launch a security operation in an effort to stabilize the area.

Madam Landgren described the deployment of the Armed Forces of Liberia on the border as the first largest deployment code named "Operation Restore Hope."

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