Liberia struggles with past as UN peacekeepers exit

Liberia's 1989-2003 conflict killed around a quarter of a million people, while government forces and rebel groups murdered, maimed and raped with impunity.

Liberia struggles with past as UN peacekeepers exit

World Bulletin / News Desk

As UN peacekeepers leave Liberia after 14 years, headway in reforming the security forces is being undermined by lack of progress in tackling the country's traumatic legacy of war crimes, officials say.

The UN mission, known as UNMIL, was deployed in September 2003 as the highly politicised army and police were disbanded after committing some of the worst abuses.

The effort to protect Liberians after the grueling conflict will be remembered long after the mission's exit, said Eugene Farkollie, a civil society leader. 

"UNMIL has had a serious positive impact in Liberia. No need to remind anyone about how the UN peacekeepers saved thousands of lives by sending a vanguard force when killing was fair game for the various warring factions," Farkollie told AFP.

"The mission gave hope to refugees to return home, and built schools through its quick impact projects. UNMIL also positively impacted our security sector by helping to train a professional police and immigration (service)," he added.

UNMIL handed back control of security matters in July 2016. Its final pullout is on Friday.

Samuel Smith, a Liberian security expert, pointed to the peaceful rollout of last year's presidential election as proof that the security forces could stand on their own, partly thanks to UN support and training.

"When you look at the manner in which our national security handled the presidential elections, it makes you believe that we are getting there gradually," he said.

Last Mod: 29 Mart 2018, 09:22
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