Encouraging progress seen in Liberia but security remains fragile says Annan

In his latest report on the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), which includes among other things recommendations on reducing the UN’s role, Mr. Annan also calls on international donors to maintain their humanitarian support and assist in the creation of public works programmes to allow ex-combatants, young people and others to find jobs.“There are still a number of potential threats to the stability of Liberia emanating mainly from several disaffected groups, including demobilized personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia who are dissatisfied with the severance and pension benefits, former members of the Anti-Terrorist Unit…former combatants, as well as deactivated members of the Special Security Service and Liberian National Police,” the Secretary-General notes.“The serious disturbances created by former personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia on 25 April, and by residents of Nimba County on 17 May, underline the fragility of peace in the country,” he says, referring to an attack in April on the National Defence Ministry and property disputes last month that saw residents take to the streets with machetes.Despite such problems however, Mr. Annan’s report also records the reduction in UN personnel that has already occurred this year but he was careful to emphasize, as he did in his March report, that further adjustments in the military component will be considered “without compromising the security of Liberia.”He also reiterates his “strong recommendation” for the deployment of an additional formed police unit, which is armoured and made up 125 officers from a single country, not only to respond to situations of public unrest but also to provide an opportunity for the Liberian Police Support Unit to gain further practical experience “to eventually take over those responsibilities from UNMIL.”The transfer in March of the former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who has been charged with war crimes, for trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone is described as the “most significant political development” during the past few months, and Mr. Annan says it “sent a strong message to other warlords in the region.”

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