The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has officially turned over all facilities previously used by its troops in Gbarpolu, to the Government of Liberia, after its drawdown from the county.
UNMIL has been in Liberia, keeping the peace for more than a decade, and with peace here, it has since begun drawing down.
When it started, UNMIL’s strength stood at 15,000 soldiers (the largest UN Peacekeeping mission, then), including 250 military observers, 160 staff officers, up to 875 civilian police officers and an additional five armed formed units each comprising 120 officers—to man the peace.
The multidimensional operation — composed of political, military, civilian police, criminal justice, civil affairs, human rights, and gender and child protection, among others—has been widely hailed by Liberians for successfully implementing its mandate.
UNMIL disarmed combatants and helped Liberians hold their first two democratic elections in 2005 and 2011 in more than 25 years. Ten years later, UN Peacekeepers, now dwindled in their number, are still on the ground helping Liberians gel and maintain their peace, having successfully executed their mandate.
UNMIL’s current mandate in Liberia stands up to July 2015. “UNMIL will still have 3,750 military force in the country and also 1,800 of police force [by that time]…and that is because after 10 years of peace, Liberia no longer needs a huge UN military presence,” UNMIL Boss Karin Landgren told this writer in an interview last October, adding that the Mission was gradually turning over to the Liberian government.
The departure of UNMIL military team from Gbarpolu is in line with UNMIL’s national drawdown plan. Facilities turned over in Gbarpolu include eight container offices, air conditioners and a communication tower.
Speaking during the turning over and signing ceremony on Tuesday (March 18), UNMIL Head of Field Support Team, Muchiri Murenga, said UNMIL was gratified to turn the facilities over to the county administration, and hoped they would be properly used and maintained.
He also expressed gratitude to the chiefs, elders and other officials of the county for their unflinching support and cooperation with UNMIL, in the sustenance of peace in Liberia.
In remarks, Gbarpolu County Assistant Superintendent for Development, Yassah Fallah, thanked UNMIL for the facilities and appealed to the UN to continue assisting the county with quick impact projects, including the construction of police stations in other parts of the county, to enhance national security.
The turning over of the facilities marks the end of the UNMIL military drawdown in Gbarpolu County.
However, the UNMIL Civil Affairs Section has been left in charge of security in the county.