Extending UN mission in Liberia, Security Council approves troop drawdown
Recognizing the continuing challenges Liberia faces as it seeks to rebuild after a 14-year civil war, the Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations mission in the country while endorsing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for the drawdown of the level of blue helmets there.
In unanimously adopting the resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) until 30 September 2008, Council members also backed the three-year plan, set to start this October, which entails reducing UNMIL’s military component by approximately 5,000 and its police component by 500.
The plan was presented last month in Mr. Ban’s latest report on Liberia, in which he wrote that “sufficient progress has been made in the implementation of the Mission’s mandate and in stabilizing the security situation in the country to allow for further adjustments to be made to the military and police components of UNMIL.”
The drawdown for both the military and police component would take place in multiple stages, resulting in 9,750 peacekeeping troops and UN police on the ground in Liberia at the end of 2010. One of the benchmarks for the drawdown is the creation of a 500-person Liberian quick reaction force in the country’s National Police, set to be established by July 2009.
Despite the country’s progress, including a nearly 50 per cent increase in public revenues, Mr. Ban noted in his report that the “slow progress in strengthening the security sector is a source of great concern.”
He also cited the hurdles of limited funding and equipment faced by the Liberian National Police. “These deficiencies are a major obstacle to the full deployment of the police throughout the country,” Mr. Ban said, appealing to the international community for assistance.
UNMIL was established in 2003 to support Liberia’s ceasefire and peace process, and currently has over 14,000 troops and nearly 1,200 police officers, along with around 500 international civilian personnel, almost 1,000 local staff and 220 UN Volunteers.