News / Africa

UN Takes Next Steps in Drawdown of Military Presence in Liberia

Jennifer Lazuta
The United Nations Mission in Liberia has begun the next phase in its drawdown of military troops in the country. The world body says this is a significant step forward in the post-war peace process. But, many Liberians worry that a reduced military presence could bring about security problems in already fragile communities.

The United Nations Mission in Liberia, known as UNMIL, shut down its military camp in northern Liberia’s Foya District, last week.

UNMIL has essentially been in charge of security in Liberia since August 2003, shortly after a ceasefire was declared in the second civil war.

This closure was the latest move by the U.N. in transferring security responsibilities to the Liberian government as Liberia Minister of Information Lewis Brown explains.

“UNMIL will gradually reduce its military presence from almost 8,000 today to 3,750 by July 2015. At the same time, UNMIL has increased its police presence in Liberia to support the Liberian National Police. This includes UNMIL’s capacity to provide a quick and effective response to any security incidents,” Brown stated.

The United Nations first scaled down its initial deployment of 15,000 troops to around 8,000 between 2007 and 2010.  In September 2012, the U.N. Security Council decided to reduce further the number UNMIL troops by 4,200.

This decision was not wholly embraced by the Liberian government. Brown says his government requested a slower phased withdrawal at meetings in December. “The departure of UNMIL from this camp and other camps will create human and logistical gaps for the GoL [Government of Liberia] to fill,” he said.

Despite reservations in Monrovia, Isabelle Abric - the chief of public information for UNMIL - says the latest reduction is a significant step forward for Liberia.

“It’s actually a sign of success and just shows that Liberian security has increased, has grown stronger," Abric noted. "It was not a decision that the Security Council just took like that. It was after assessing the capacity of the Liberian security agencies in general.”

Many Liberians, however, particularly those in the north of the country where fighting continued even after the 2003 cease-fire, say they have no faith in Liberian security forces.

Terry Myers, a businessman from Foya District’s Lofa County, said, “I’m very afraid. I don’t trust the Liberian army. We need a U.N. committee. Liberia is just from war and we a need presence of army. This news is very sad. "I’m afraid of the future of Liberia. If U.N. military leaves, something needs to be done now.”

Abric says the world body understands such concerns and Liberians should not worry. “Of course, there have been fear and expectations of people, but again, it’s a very gradual process and the military troops are reducing," she explained. "But special police forces are increasing and it’s a very gradual process.”

Abric said that even though UNMIL is removing some of their permanent military troops from the country, the United Nations will continue to maintain a UNMIL civilian and a U.N. police presence, as well as continuing to work with the Liberian government to build up security institutions and maintain peace.

An additional 420 U.N. police officers are set to be deployed in the coming months to help with the transition.

Prince Collins (northern Liberia) contributed to this report.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid