“Liberia has made enormous progress in the past 15 years,” said Ms. Mohammed at an event in the capital, Monrovia, commemorating the completion of the work of the UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNMIL, acknowledging its support for Liberians in restoring their country and building sustainable peace.
“In 2003, when UNMIL was created, Liberia was torn apart by conflict, with a traumatized population and no hope for its young people, especially our women and girls,” she continued.
She noted that 14 years of civil war left more than a quarter of a million Liberians dead, nearly one-third of the population displaced, and an estimated 80 per cent of women and girls injured by sexual violence.
Highlighting the important role of Liberian women, Ms. Mohammed commend their “leadership, courage and integrity” in pursuing peace.
She thanked the Special Representatives, civilian and military personnel and troop-contributing countries and paid special tribute to the 200 peacekeepers who lost their lives in pursuit of peace in Liberia.”
“Today, we remember their sacrifice, we remember their families,” she stressed.
At an “important turning point,” she noted Liberia’s progress and acknowledged that challenges lie ahead.
“Peace will not last without sustainable development; and development gains will be at risk without sustained peace and respect for human rights,” she warned.
“We need to give Liberians back their dignity, dreams and faith in a better future,” Ms. Mohammed cited the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as the best roadmaps to achieve this.
She noted that a generation ago, Liberia and Sierra Leone were in freefall, and Cote d’Ivoire was embroiled in crisis. Yet, 20 years later, “the closure of UNMIL marks the transition of all three countries to peace and democracy.”
“This sub-region has a bright future,” she stated.
Speaking to the press afterwards, she referred to UNMIL as another successful peacekeeping mission in West Africa.
It was deployed in 2003 when State institutions in ruins, a non-existent economy and a disintegrated national police and army. Today, the State has been rebuilt and more than 100,000 former combatants disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated. Justice and security institutions were restored.
Ms. Mohammed said that today Liberians enjoy peace and UNMIL leaves behind a country that has great potential to achieve lasting stability, democracy and prosperity.
To President George Manneh Weah, she underlined the UN’s support to him in sustaining peace and advancing sustainable development – assuring him that the UN would remain committed beyond UNMIL’s 30 March mandate.
Although the mission is leaving, 17 UN funds and agencies will remain in Liberia to focus on development and improving the lives of Liberian people.
Meanwhile, yesterday, at the National Peace and Reconciliation Conference, she recognized that while the country had suffered so much, for so long, the people persevered with great determination.
She noted that UNMIL had supported the country “every step of the way,” explaining that long-lasting peace requires wide-ranging confidence-building measures for solid foundations.
“This will only be possible if we ensure full and true reconciliation,” she asserted.