The Liberian Embassy at the Court of Saint James, London, has joined other UN Member States in the United Nations Association in the United Kingdom (UK) to pay tribute to hundreds of UN peacekeepers who lost their lives while discharging their duties around the world.
According to a dispatch from the embassy, Liberia’s diplomatic mission was joining her counterparts in the UK to pay homage to the gallantry of UN peacekeepers who gave their lives to ensure global peace and security at a time when the world body had just lifted the arms embargo and remaining sanctions imposed by its Security Council (UNSC) during the years of Liberia’s civil upheaval.
When the civil crisis ended in 2003, the UN deployed one of its largest missions in the world in Liberia. It had a 15,000-strong force with peacekeepers coming from all over the world.
Following more than a decade of relative peace and stability, the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) is now handing over full security to the care of the Liberian government by June 30. It has pulled out nearly all of its peacekeepers from the country.
According to the UN peacekeeping fact sheet, as of April 30, its present mission strength in Liberia is now 4,704 including 3,745 uniformed personnel (troops: 2,674, military observers: 65 and police: 632); 1,159 civilian personnel, including 358 international civilians and 801 local civilians. It also has 174 UN Volunteers. It says since September 2003, it has recorded 196 fatalities.
According to the Liberian Embassy dispatch, the ceremony, which was held recently in the UK, began with a parade led by Heads of Missions and military representatives of UN member countries. It was climaxed by the laying of wreaths at the Glorious Dead Monument in London, close to the venue of the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in 1946.
The remembrance ceremony was organized by the United Nations Association of the UK, in commemoration of the International Day of Peacekeeping, under the United Nations flag.
The interim Charge d’ Affaires at the Embassy of Liberia accredited to the Court of Saint James, Ms. Genevieve A. Kennedy, performed the wreath-laying at the Glorious Dead Monument on behalf of Liberia.
Ms. Kennedy recounted the heroic contributions of UN Peacekeepers in planting the seeds of peace and democratic transformation that continues to produce useful fruits across every sphere of the Liberian society.
Liberia, reputed as a post conflict success story under the stewardship of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has moved to reclaim its place in the comity of nations; with a fledging democratic environment that has conducted two successful elections, extended the reach of infrastructural development, while consolidating its contribution to global peace, with a contingent of the restructured Armed Forces of Liberia posted to Mali under the United Nations flag.
The Chair of the United Nations Association in the United Kingdom, David Wardrop, gave a reflective account of UN Peacekeepers and their selfless contributions toward global peace.
“Let us remember those who have laid down their lives in lands far from their own in the service of peace. They came from 123 countries. 194 are mourned. They chose to serve their country. Their country chose them to serve the world, to serve us,” the dispatch quotes Mr. Wardrop as saying.
The ceremony honored the dedication of 120,000 uniformed and civilian personnel serving under the United Nations Flag.
It was also an ideal platform for Liberia to pay tribute to the role of UN Peacekeepers, for securing the environment for peace and democratic governance as Liberia and the United Nations coordinate the conclusion of a successful presence in the country.