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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

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