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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid