West African troops now in Liberia are set to don the blue helmets of United Nations peacekeepers on Wednesday, according to the UN mission in that country.
In a statement released Sunday, the UN mission, known as UNMIL, said the 3,500 "re-hatted" soldiers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will become the first contingent of up to 15,000 UN troops that eventually will be deployed to Liberia in a peacekeeping operation approved by the Security Council early this month.
"UNMIL reiterates the appreciation of the United Nations for the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States to resolve the crisis in Liberia. The initiative of ECOWAS to convene peace talks among the Liberian parties and the subsequent deployment to Liberia of the peacekeeping force, ECOMIL, have underscored the determination of the sub-regional organization to provide leadership in peace-making and peacekeeping," the statement said.
"The United Nations commends the Governments of Benin, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo for their contribution to ECOMIL and for their willingness to re-hat the forces as United Nations peacekeepers," it added.