At a commemoration of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers held today at UNMIL headquarters in Monrovia, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Coordinator of UN Operations in Liberia, Farid Zarif, and the Coordinator of the Cabinet, Minister of Defence Brownie J. Samukai, laid wreaths in honour of the 238 uniformed and civilian peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving on the Mission since 2003.
A minute of silence was observed in memory of the fallen heroes. “Now is the occasion for us to remember them and to express our deep sense of gratitude for their service, and to also express our sympathy to their families,” said the SRSG, reflecting on the fourteen personnel that passed away in the last year. In recognition of the UN’s contribution to the restoration of peace in Liberia, Mr. Samukai said: “Hope was reborn by the presence of the UN. We want to remember all of those who passed to the great beyond during these years. The sacrifices they have made should not and will not go in vain.” Under this year’s global theme, “Honouring Our Heroes,” the event in Monrovia included a joint parade of UNMIL uniformed personnel and their counterparts from the Armed Forces of Liberia, the Liberia National Police, and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN). Similar events were organized in Gbarnga, Greenville, Harper, Voinjama and Zwedru. UN envoy Zarif said Liberia has come a long way in rebuilding its security and justice institutions almost from scratch since the end of the civil conflict and deployment of UNMIL nearly 13 years ago. “All the residual responsibilities with regards to security will have been handed over to the Government of Liberia by 30 June,” he said. “We have now reached a point where we feel confident that there will be no immediate requirement for us to step in because the challenges that we know of are within the capability and capacity of the Liberian institutions to effectively manage.” Mr. Zarif said that UNMIL will continue to support Liberia after 1 July, including with 1,240 military and 606 police personnel. “You may call it an insurance policy or fallback support capacity,” he said. The international community will continue to support Liberia’s progress after the eventual withdrawal of UNMIL. “The United Nations remains committed – beyond peacekeeping operations and beyond any mission here – to supporting the people of Liberia in their quest to overcome their socio-economic issues and to strengthen and consolidate their democratic achievements and move ahead with the fulfillment of their aspirations,” said the SRSG.