— Sudan in sight as well as new deployments for Mali and South Sudan
Liberia is gradually emerging as a prominent force in the international community’s efforts to maintain peace globally, as the country is poised to send officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) on Peacekeeping Missions in Mali, Sudan, and South Sudan.
According to the Ministry of Defense, 93 soldiers have completed pre-deployment training, which lasts for six weeks and are now prepared for peacekeeping missions in the aforementioned countries.
Liberia, once a war-torn country, hosted peacekeepers for decades. However, 20 years after the end of the war, the country is now making significant contributions to UN peacekeeping missions around Africa.
“Liberia is an example of the tangible impact that peacekeeping has on countries affected by conflict,” said UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix in recognition of Liberia’s strong support to United Nations Peacekeeping at an event in New York last November.
Liberia first provided peacekeepers to the United Nations in the early 1960s when it joined the UN Operation in the Congo (ONUC). Today, the country is the 60th largest contributor among all UN Member States with soldiers in Mali, Sudan and South Sudan. At present, a Liberian solider serving in Mali occupies the position of chief personnel of the entire military force and few years ago, a Liberian officer served as the Senior Military Observer (3rd in command) of the Mission.
The Liberian soldiers in Mali carry out patrols to assess the security situation, deter violence against local communities, and also provide security to UN facilities.
While Mali has the largest share of Liberian troops on a peacekeeping mission, the Liberia also contributes forces to the UN Interim Security Force in Sudan as well as the UN Mission in South Sudan.
Meanwhile, the United Nations at a peace conference in New York last November praised Liberia for its unwavering support of UN peacekeeping and the valuable contributions of its military and police personnel deployed under the UN flag.
“For several decades, Liberia hosted peacekeeping operations in the wake of a civil war. Today, Liberia is a country at peace, thanks to the efforts of thousands of peacekeepers from around the world. And Liberia, in turn, deploys blue helmets to help other countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.
“We deeply appreciate the service and sacrifice of all the Liberian men and women who have served with the UN. We will always remember the seven Liberian peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving under the UN flag; as well as the 34 Liberian civilian national staff who perished while working for the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL),” Lacroix said last year.
Meanwhile, the pre-deployment exercise coincided with the graduation of new AFL recruits.