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Development crucial for lasting peace in Liberia, says UN envoy

Development crucial for lasting peace in Liberia, says UN envoy

Ellen Margrethe Løj, SRSG and Coordinator of UN Operations in Liberia
Pledging the continued commitment of the United Nations to Liberia, the world body’s top official there has stressed that sustainable peace will depend largely on the West African nation’s ability to ensure development for its people.

Ellen Margrethe Løj, who took up her post as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative last week, pointed out that “there is a lot of peacebuilding work to be done to ensure that Liberia does not slide back into conflict and chaos.”

Ms. Løj was addressing a ceremony in Gbarnga, Bong County, where she awarded UN peacekeeping medals to Bangladeshi soldiers serving with the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for their contribution to peace in the country, which is striving to make the transition from more than a decade of disastrous civil war to peace, stability and democracy.

Since 2003, UNMIL has been supporting implementation of the ceasefire agreement ending a war that killed almost 150,000 Liberians, mostly civilians, and sent 850,000 others fleeing to neighbouring countries.

Along with UN agencies working in Liberia, the Mission has helped to organize free elections and the return to their homes of hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The new Special Representative said that UNMIL and the entire UN family will continue to work hard “to help the Government consolidate the hard-won gains we’ve all made.”

She emphasized that any drawdown or adjustment of the presence of UNMIL – which she heads – would be done in a “cautious, careful and well-calibrated manner” that enables Liberians to assume greater responsibility for the security and stability of their nation.