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Liberia Honors UN Peacekeepers

The U.N. Mission in Liberia has honored its personnel for International U.N. Peacekeeper Day. Since 2003, about 15,000 U.N. troops have been in Liberia to maintain peace in the war-torn country that has been economically devastated. According to U.N. figures, 92 peacekeepers have lost their lives while on duty in Liberia, mostly through illness and accidents. Phuong Tran has more from VOA's West Africa bureau in Dakar.

The head of the U.N. Mission in Liberia, Alan Doss, helped lay a wreath at a tombstone in honor of past and current U.N. peacekeepers.

Almost 100 have died since the start of this mission in September 2003.

For about a quarter century, this West African country has gone through a bloody cycle of war and unstable governments.

Its first democratically-elected female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has been in office for a little more than one year.

Despite positive feedback for her efforts to control corruption, analysts point out President Sirleaf inherited decades of economic ruin, ex-fighters, crumbling roads, buildings and an electricity grid that does not work for most of the country.

Earlier this year, the U.N. Security Council said the country is still a threat to regional security and extended its mission until September this year.

The U.N. Mission in Liberia is one of the most expensive peacekeeping operations in the world, costing more than $700 million each year.

It recently welcomed the U.N.'s first all-female peacekeeping group from India earlier this year.

Next week in the Hague, the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone is expected to begin the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

It has charged Mr. Taylor with committing crimes against humanity for providing money and weapons to fighters in neighboring Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war that officially ended in 2002.