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Liberia needs international aid to consolidate progress in reducing poverty, says Ban

Liberia needs international aid to consolidate progress in reducing poverty, says Ban

Liberia has made strides in slashing poverty, but significant challenges still remain in meeting security benchmarks for the West African nation, still recovering from a brutal 14-year-long civil war, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

Since last August, Liberia has continued to make “steady progress” towards achieving its four-pronged poverty reduction strategy which focuses on security, economic recovery, rule of law and infrastructure and basic services, Mr. Ban wrote in his latest report to the Security Council on the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), calling for international partners to continue supporting Liberia, especially in its efforts to curb poverty.

“Despite the sharp increase in food and fuel prices in 2008, many of the potential negative effects were mitigated by proactive policy initiatives,” the new publication said, adding that the Government has also tried to guarantee advances in several key areas, including the fight against corruption and public financial management reforms.

“However, limited national institutional capacity across all sectors remains a serious constraint, not least since most public institutions, at national and local levels, have had to be completely rebuilt after the conflict,” including national security agencies, the Secretary-General said.

Stressing the ties between peace and development, Mr. Ban stressed the importance of ensuring simultaneous progress in all four pillars of the poverty reduction strategy, “particularly given the potential link between high youth unemployment and security.”

The report also highlighted the challenges Liberia faces in meeting its main security and rule of law benchmarks.

The country’s media and public opinion surveys consistently show how law and order are a primary concern, it said. “This partly reflects a continued lack of public confidence in national security institutions and the criminal justice system, leading people to take justice into their own hands, frequently resulting in serious injury, death or property damage.”

The presidential and legislative elections slated for 2011 will be a key test of progress made in Liberia since it emerged from its civil war that killed almost 150,000 people, mostly civilians.

The Secretary-General called for the development of a comprehensive electoral plan, including financial and technical requirements, as soon as possible.

Delayed polls in bordering Côte d’Ivoire and the recent military coup in Guinea have exacerbated the unpredictability in the sub-region, he said. “Any negative trends in the security situation in these neighbouring countries will have a major impact on the situation in Liberia and its peacebuilding efforts.”

Given the tasks ahead for Liberia, Mr. Ban said he recommends that no further adjustments to the military and police components of UNMIL be made for the mandated period.

UNMIL is in the midst of the second phase of its drawdown during which troops levels are to be reduced by nearly 1,500, and further modifications could be made during the third and final segment which kicks off this September.