Liberia: top envoy says UN Volunteers will remain crucial as mission changes
United Nations Volunteers (UNV) have been “absolutely crucial” to the accomplishments of the world body’s peacekeeping mission in Liberia, and they will continue to play a vital role as the peacekeeping operation starts changing in the months ahead, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative has said.
At a recent event in Monrovia, the West African country’s capital, over 250 UNV from almost 70 nations were honoured by the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), and Special Representative Alan Doss told the volunteers that their assistance remains crucial in such areas as reconstruction and promoting human rights.
In a Security Council resolution adopted in March, UNMIL was called on to take steps towards achieving key benchmarks aimed at facilitating a phased, gradual consolidation, drawdown and withdrawal of its troop contingent, “as the situation permits and without compromising” the country’s security.
Despite this impending transition, Mr. Doss stressed the value of the UNV. “We still need to help this country recover from those many dreadful years of war, conflict, violence and abuse,” he said. “We are all here for the same purpose – to help Liberia get back on its feet.”
The highlight of the ceremony was the awarding of special prizes to the six UNV who have served for the longest periods with UNMIL: Marcel Lwamba Afanya of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Robert Abass Bangura of Sierra Leone, Joyce Curtis-Hooke of Sierra Leone, Daniel Mensah-Brande of Ghana, Mafulu Mudingombi of the DRC and Seblewongel Worku of Ethiopia.
They have served in UNMIL’s Civil Affairs, Public Information, Transport, Communication and Information and Technology sections since 2003.
“The UN Volunteer is no longer an unknown or strange entity,” said UNV Programme Manager Olufemi Olugbemi, noting that the six who received the awards have taken volunteerism to a new level. “Volunteers have proven to be the added advantage to peacekeeping operations by enduring tests of perseverance, patience and technical competence.”
UNMIL was established in 2003 to support Liberia’s ceasefire and peace process, and currently has over 15,200 uniformed personnel, along with around 500 international civilian personnel, almost 1,000 local staff and 220 UN Volunteers.
Since the mission was established, nearly 700 volunteers from more than 70 countries have worked for UNMIL.