17 December 2012

Liberia: UN Donates Jeeps to Land Commission

The United Nations has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting efforts by the Government of Liberia in promoting reconciliation, sustaining peace and democracy.

After significantly assisting in restoring the hard earned peace Liberia now enjoys through the deployment of one of the world's largest peace keeping missions (15,000 peacekeepers) here, the UN now appears to be focused on critical issues that could regress the country's progress.

Land disputes across the country have become one such crucial issues of concern that is alarming every Liberians, including foreign partners. The Chief Technical Advisor of the United Nations' Human Settlement Program, UN-Habitat Liberia, Elizabeth Moorsmith, has praised the country's Land Commission for the tremendous efforts in tackling and settling land related conflicts.

"The United Nations has recognized the work of the Land Commission as an incredible and an important part of the peace and reconciliation process of Liberia", said Madam Moorsmith. The UN Habitat Liberia Boss spoke Friday in Monrovia when she handed over three brand new Toyota-Land Cruiser jeeps to the commission.

Proudly performing one of her first official duties as head of the UN Habitat here, she said the UN was unequivocally pleased to support the Land Commission's programs in order to ignite a spirit of peaceful co-existence among Liberians. She asserted that the vehicles will particularly enhance the activities of land coordination centers established in the various counties in resolving land conflicts.

According to her, the vehicles are part of the UN Peace Building Fund (PBF) support to the commission. The PBF is in the tune of two million United States Dollars, intended to address issues of conflict. It is a major donor to many other initiatives relating to peace building and peace keeping in the country, including the Land Commission's Alternative Dispute Resolution Program.

"The UN Peace Building Funds is supporting land coordination centers through us, UN Habitat, because we really feel these centers can be managed in terms of bringing new ideas to bear on conflicts that might be impossible to solve, but when you look at it from many different angles, you can find solutions that can promote peace and reconciliation", she added.

Madam Moorsmith said the UN family was proud to support the Government of Liberia in such great endeavor, noting it is the organization's hope that the vehicles would enhance the work of the commission, especially during harsh weathers.

For his part, the Land Commission Chairman Dr. Cecil Othello Brandy expressed overwhelming gratitude for the donation, and extolled the cordial relations between the commission and UN-Habitat.

Dr. Brandy applauded the PBF for being a major benefactor to projects geared towards handling issues of conflict, something he described as critical to peace building and peacemaking.

"In this regard, the United Nations has selected the Land Commission, in particular our land dispute area (Alternative Dispute Resolution Program) to provide some assistance to quickly move on with these disputes. So we are very pleased today to receive through UN Habitat the three vehicles to facilitate our pilot projects that are being undertaken with UN-Habitat in collaboration with USAID", Dr. Brandy said.

The Land Commission's Alternative Dispute Resolution Program is a one year pilot project aimed at creating an optional compromise method in resolving land conflicts to promote peace and reconciliation. According to the commission, the court settlement of land matters is important, but could bring about chaos between parties.

The program is being implemented in five counties, including Maryland, Lofa, Margibi, Bong, Nimba and Bomi, respectively.

Reports say, the ADR's implementation was at a slow pace due to the lack of support. However Dr. Brandy was quick to point out that things were on course when he said: "I think this gives us the opportunity here in this public manner to say that we are now kicking up the ADR activities full blast".

Meanwhile, the Land Commission chair has commended the United States Government for the joint partnership. Dr. Brandy also thanked Commissioner Lwupo Kandakai, who has oversight on land dispute and resolution, for her industrious work in making sure that such support was obtained.

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