Landgren Briefs Security Council as UNMIL Drawdown Resumes

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The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Liberia, Karin Landgren, briefed the UN Security Council yesterday on the situation in Liberia, highlighting the Government’s plan to assume full responsibility for the country’s security by 30 June 2016, the resumption this month of the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), and the country’s remarkable success in beating back Ebola.

“All of Liberia is anticipating Saturday, 9 May,” Landgren said, citing the day when the World Health Organization is expected to declare Liberia Ebola-free. “Liberians and their Government, with support from the UN and international partners, have gotten firmly ahead of the epidemic,” she said, while urging all Liberians to remain vigilant against the virus.

“Even as Liberia launches its post-Ebola recovery plan, the Government has taken steps to assume fully its security responsibilities by 30 June 2016, as mandated by this Council,” Landgren said.

The Ministry of Justice developed the Government’s security transition plan with UNMIL’s support and extensive consultations with stakeholders, including civil society. Progress against the plan’s benchmarks is monitored by a Joint Implementation Group, chaired by the Minister of Justice and co-chaired by the SRSG, Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Minister of Defense, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and the Ambassador of the United States.

“While the Security Transition Plan focuses on Liberia’s assumption of tasks still performed by UNMIL, it also addresses the needs and deep capacity gaps across the sector,” Landgren said, adding that the plan’s success requires the whole Government’s engagement and “sustained political will at the highest levels.” She said the Government’s intention to cover the costs of the three-year plan from the national budget could prove challenging.

“The UN commends Liberia for meeting the initial benchmarks,” Landgren said. These included Liberia’s ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty in April and its taking over of responsibility for marking and registering arms.

The UNMIL drawdown will resume on 13 May with the withdrawal of 80 soldiers from Toe Town, Grand Gedeh County, and Pleebo, Maryland County. By September 2015, the number of UNMIL military and police personnel will be reduced to about 3,600 and 1,500, respectively.

Landgren lauded Liberians for coming together to tackle Ebola. “Now is the time to address factors which contributed to Ebola’s spread, in particular weak social service delivery, lack of accountability and overly centralized government.” She said the Government’s early steps toward security transition at the county level are “part of a historic reform in deconcentrating service delivery.” The SRSG recognized the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission’s major investigations related to state-owned enterprises as promising developments that required steady political will.

Landgren cited encouraging developments in cooperation between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, including the Quadripartite meeting held in March. “With presidential elections anticipated in both Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire this October, there is a particular need to support strong cooperation across the sub-region,” Landgren noted.

Landgren will be stepping down in July as the SRSG for Liberia, a post she has held since July 2012.

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