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 Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid