United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) run Bangladesh-Liberia Friendship Center (BLFC) in Ganta, Nimba County, was on January 2 turned over to the government through the Ministry of Education (MOE). The handing over of the facility is part of UNMIL’s drawdown in the country, an official at the ceremony told the Daily Observer.
The center was established in 2007 by the UNMIL Bangladeshi Contingent #10 under the command of Lieutenant/Colonel Mohammed Hogue as part of the civilian military’s activities to cement the peace at the time. It was also part of the recovery and reintegration process in postwar Liberia.
Since it was established, the center has imparted knowledge to over 3,000 Liberians in several disciplines including computer training, tailoring, general repair, carpentry and first aid nursing.
Although the turning over was symbolic, it brought together several local government officials including Nimba County Superintendent, Fong Zuagele, the County Acting Chief Education Officer, Alfred Dologbay , District Education Officer Lynor Martol as well as some members of the alumni.
There was sadness on the faces of many Nimbaians as the UNMIL Bangladeshi officer handed over the keys of the school to the county authority because it is one of the facilities that established the first public internet café where many of the residents learned to browse.
At present, the size of the UNMIL Bangladeshi Engineering Contingent in Nimba has been reduced to a company-size to the extent that the UNMIL Military Observer office in Ganta has been closed since December and relocated to Gbarnga, where the mission is currently based to monitor situations in Nimba and other areas.
The UNMIL Bangladeshi contingent arrived in Ganta in early 2004 under the command of Major Mubashi. It grew to full battalion-size when the first battalion known as Banbatt-4 took over from Major Mubashi and immediately started the disarmament process that gave rise to the peace process.
Banbatt-7 then took over, and afterward came the Banbatt-10, which established the Bangladesh Liberia Friendship Center. Since the departure of Banbatt-10, the center has been managed by other contingents until it was finally turned over to the government.