MESSENGERS OF PEACE

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Last week UNMIL commemorated the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, a day set aside to remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for peace to prevail. During the solemn ceremony at UNMIL headquarters, the UN Special Representative to the Secretary General (SRSG),
Farid Sarif, stated the number of UN personnel comprising of military, police, civilian, international and Liberian nationals who lost their lives during the year and since the start of the peacebuilding mission.

To us at Messengers of Peace (MOP) Liberia, it’s not just a number game but a time to review the perils of peace and to manifest the best attributes as well as sacrifices of those who lost their lives so that others might have peaceful existence and coexistence. In order to appreciate the level of sacrifice these
UN personnel have made, we need to examine what safeties are in place to guarantee that their sacrifice is not in vain.

It is a statement of fact that the presence of UN personnel in Liberia since 2003 brought significant change to Liberia. We have seen new faces at work in every sphere and sector of country. The first female Indian Police Women served in Liberia and have been inspirational for the recruitment of young females to the Liberian National Police force.

UN Peacekeepers have been involved in the governance and recovery program, particularly with respect to elections, civil as well as political affairs. We have noticed their inputs to the rule of law, legal and judicial reforms and the promotion of human rights.

UNMIL Public Information Office assists to provide media coverage, reporting and sensitization. This office, over the past thirteen years, provided accurate and reliable information through UNMIL Radio to over ninety (90) percent of the Liberian population in urban and rural settings.

The troops contributing countries, besides maintaining our security and law and order, have assisted with road constructions. These groups of men and women have risen to new operational requirements when called upon to do us. According to the UN-Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, “When fears of Ebola spread around the world, peacekeepers in Liberia provided security as international experts contained the spread of the virus.” We have come to know many peacekeepers in diverse walks of life; and once again, we pay our respect to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives in the service of peace and security in Liberia.

As UNMIL draws down its troops and Liberian security personnel takes over the steering wheel of the vehicle that would drive us to peace, security and stability, Liberia would forever remain indebted to those who served as peacekeepers. As the theme rightly says, it is a significant time for “Honoring Our Heroes.”

The potential for violence remains given the potent mix of poverty, high levels of corruption, ritualistic killings, mob violence and pursuit of religious ideology. The only tribute we can pay to show our appreciation is to address these perils of peace and security.

Until next week, when we continue our dialogue among Peace Messengers – What young people say is their recipe for peace, it is Peace First, Peace above all else. May Peace prevail on earth!

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