Acting Foreign Minister, B. Elias Shoniyin, has received the Letters of Credence from the newly appointed Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG) of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Yacoub El Hillo.
Mr. Hillo, a Sudanese, will also serve as the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Liberia, while carrying out his duties.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, receiving the UN envoy at the Foreign Ministry on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Acting Minister Shoniyin welcomed the new UN Resident Coordinator to Liberia, particularly highlighting the wealth of experience that he brings to the assignment.
Mr. Shoniyin emphasized the strong partner that the UNDP has been to Liberia especially in all of the country’s post-war development efforts, also highlighting the period of the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease. “The resilience and strong support from the UNDP and others gave us the courage and determination to fight back,” he said, adding, “That’s how we overcame and won the fight.”
Besides, the Acting Minister indicated the involvement of UNDP in a broad spectrum of the country’s development drive – governance, economic transformation, environment and climate change, private sector development, among others – which show that they have been part of every facet of the country’s development efforts.
“Having you with the wealth of experience that you’ve come with,” Mr. Shoniyin said, “we believe that the partnership will further deepen.” He recalled Mr. Hillo’s stint in Liberia in the 1990s during his time with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
Mr. Shoniyin assured Mr. Hillo of government’s fullest support, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking earlier, Mr. Hillo said it was an honor to be designated by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to return to Liberia after nearly 20 years and to join the UN team here, though serving in a new capacity.
He said he is delighted coming back to a Liberia that is not at war, but rather focused on consolidating peace and developing every aspect of life; and seeing the United Nations becoming a more robust partner to the government and people of Liberia.
Reflecting on his last assignment in Syria, which was plagued by a vicious war and coming to Liberia that is no longer at war, Mr. Hillo emphasized, “Peace is priceless.”
He committed to working together with the government and people to consolidate the peace in Liberia and focus on development, progress and prosperity.
He assured that the UN Country Team is going to assume greater responsibility in the partnership with Liberia as the UN Mission goes through the phases of adjustment and there is always the need for the Liberian Government and UN to work together to ensure that any of the issues that the mission has been focusing on will not be forgotten or fall through the cracks. “The UN is here for the long haul,” he assured.
Mr. Hillo succeeds Antonio Vigilante of Italy, who concluded his assignment a few months ago.
Before his appointment to Liberia, he served as the UN Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Damascus, Syria from August 2013.
Prior to his assignment in Syria, he served at the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as Director for the Middle East and North Africa in Geneva, since November 2010.