T he UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia is set to be phased out this year, the UN announced on Thursday. Now satisfied with the stability of the country, the international forces will handover to the Liberian army.
The UN mission began in 2003 to aid the transition to peaceful government. The West African state had endured two brutal civil wars, the first spanned 1989 to 1997, the second followed the rise and fall of Charles Taylor from 1999 to 2003. Since then Liberia has relied on the deployment of 15,000 UN troops to support its transition to free elections and self-government. Under President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, the first democratically elected African female head of state, Liberia has enjoyed stable government.
Although the UN withdrawal may be a sign of progress, West Africa finds itself confronted with new security challenges. Neighbouring countries like Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali have been targeted by militant Islamist groups.
The UN presence will be dropped to just 1,200 soldiers and 600 police personnel, who will only stay to provide support in emergency situations, Reuters reports.
Here Deutsche Welle’s Chrispin Mwakideu interviews Waldemar Vrey, the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for UNMIL.