Friday, January 25, 2008

In First Public Appearance: UNMIL’s New Boss Rules Out

Making her first public appearance since she took over
the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Madam
Ellen Margrethe Loj last Saturday warned strongly
against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) in
particular and all forms of indiscipline and bad
behavior in general; Bill Jarkloh reports from

Madam spoke in Gbarnga when she addressed a
Bangladeshi Medal Day. She said, “All our contribution
and sacrifice will become easily tarnished by act of
indiscipline and bad behavior.”

The Special Representative of the Secretary General
(SRSG) of the United Nations and head of Mission of
UNMIL said sexual exploitation and abuse should never
and must never be accepted amongst us.” The first
UNMIL female leader cautioned, “Each and every one of
us must strictly observe the Secretary-general’s
policy of zero-tolerance against SEA.”

…Counts Zero-tolerance for Sexual Exploitation

Saying that they all must work individually and
collectively to guard against SEA, she also urged
strongly all commanders of the forces of UNMIL to take
responsibility seriously. “I urge you to do your
personal best. We are the representatives of our
countries, the UN and the international community. So
let us serve in Liberia as worthy representatives,”
she admonished the forces.

Drawdown Plan
The UNMIL boss has also announced the commencement of
the drawdown plan and adjustment process in the UN
forces from Liberia. Madam Loj said, “These
adjustments and re-alignments are going to be done in
a cautious, careful and well-calibrated manner, so
that no security vacuum is created” in Liberia.

The UNMIL boss noted that UNMIL peacekeepers and
personnel will continue working hard to help Liberia
get back on the path of freedom and prosperity. She
intimated that said the UN will continue to work
harder and effectively in Liberia to help the
government to consolidate the hard-won gains made.

According to Madam LOJ, “There is a lot of
peace-building work to be done to ensure that Liberia
does not slide back into conflict and chaos,” adding,
“Development is crucial for sustainable peace and
security. All of them are interlinked. And they are
all about the people”

Tribute to the Bangladeshis
She paid tribute to the Bangladeshis earlier. Madam
Loj acknowledged that Bangladesh has enjoyed the
distinction of being one of the highest contributors
in the UN peace-keeping missions worldwide.

The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative
(SGSR) for to Liberia also implored Bangladeshi forces
in Liberia for their “valuable contribution” toward
the peace and security of Liberia.”

The UNMIL boss indicated that the Bangladeshis were
amongst the first to arrive in the Mission in 2003
with contingent deployed from neighboring Sierra
Leone, noting that the Bangladeshi Contingent in
Liberia served in that country in a diverse ways.

“You assisted greatly during the DDRR process to
help many ex-combatants to get reintegrated into
society. Your work is recognized and appreciated,
especially your efforts in helping deal with property
disputes and issues of law and order,” Madam Loj said.

According to her, an important issue in for UN
pace-keeping operations is the need to foster a very
good relationship between the UN peacekeepers and the
local population, an area of operation she expressed
happiness that the Bangladeshi has achieved.

“In this regard, I am happy to note that you have
never restricted yourselves within the boundaries of
military responsibilities only. You have been
undertaking various humanitarian activities, such as,
training for the youth, free medical care, donation to
educational and vocational institutes, assistance in
agricultural development and much more,” she observed.

The UNMIL boss recounted the Bangladeshis’ tangible
marks of their generosity as being in the form of a
vocational training center, children’s park and
football ground. All of these including a peace
monument called “Shanti…” are located at the
“Bangladeshi Square” a developed plague of land with
modern technological training facility and a café at
the outskirt of Gbarnga in Bong County.

“This Square should also remind everyone of your great
contribution in Liberia. In fact, in serving the
people of this country some of your colleagues had
made the ultimate sacrifice. And so we remember them
with appreciation and respect on an occasion like this
today,” she exclaimed.

Also speaking was the Sector commander. Brigadier
General Mohammed Monawar Hossain who recounted the
achievements of the Bangladeshi forces in Liberia,
especially in Gbarnga where they are based.

The program was attended by the top ranking
administrative staff and military brass of the UN
Mission in Liberia as well as members of the
diplomatic corps, senior government officials and
county administrators.

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