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UN chief hails progress in Liberia's post-conflict recovery

08-25-2012 05:55 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moonon Friday applauded the political and social progress in Liberia's post-conflict recovery, but cautioned that much still remains to be done to address the wrongs of the past.

"I welcome the important efforts being made to transform the country," the secretary-general said in his latest progress report to the UN Security Council on the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The report was released here Friday.

"Much remains to be done, however, to address the historical injustices that persist, so that all Liberians feel that they are benefiting from the country's progress in stability, democracy and development," said the secretary-general.

The United Nations has maintained a peacekeeping force in Liberia since 2003 to bolster a ceasefire agreement ending a decade of war that killed nearly 150,000 people, mostly civilians. UNMIL's mandate includes helping to restore the rule of law and democratic processes as well as facilitating humanitarian assistance.

"Coherent and genuine national reconciliation should be at the center of the Liberian peace process," Ban said, noting that it was essential for all Liberians to have "an opportunity to express their views about how to best address all aspects of reconciliation."

Ban also reaffirmed his recommendation, made in his special report on April 16, that UNMIL's presence in the West African country be gradually reduced by about 4,200 troops in three phases between this year and 2015, to about 3,750 peacekeepers.

Also in his new report, the secretary-general suggested that the UN Mission's police component maintain its current strength of 498 advisers and 845 officers in seven formed police units, and be authorized to add three formed units as needed over the next three years.

Currently, UNMIL has a total of 9,195 uniformed personnel, including 1,279 police, some of whom are serving in formed police units.

He also requested that the UN Security Council approve his recommendations and extend UNMIL's mandate by one year, until Sept. 30, 2013.

The 15-nation Security Council is expected to meet next month on the report and discuss Ban's recommendations.

On the security situation along the 700-kilometer shared border between Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire, the secretary-general voiced concern about continuing instability in what he said was a volatile and porous area.

He welcomed ongoing efforts by both governments to develop a coordinated strategy with regards to cross-border movements, illicit trafficking, and organized crime.

"Security measures alone will not create lasting stability," Ban said. "I would therefore underline the importance of devoting attention to reconciliation, confidence-building and the development and strengthening of State authority in border areas."

On June 8, seven peacekeepers serving with the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire and at least 27 civilians were killed in a series of attacks in the border region, prompting the government of Liberia to launch a security operation in an effort to stabilize the area.

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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