The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Farid Zarif, has praised the Nigerian peacekeepers for their long service in the Liberia.
Zarif, who is also Head of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), said in New York that the Government of Liberia was also grateful to Nigeria.
The UN envoy said: “Our last military contingent is that from Nigeria, NICOY, and we are now planning to have it repatriated by the end of January.
“Because of the lost timelines in the elections, we had to postpone their departure by a month. Nigeria also continues to provide a Formed Police Unit, as does China.
“The only other peacekeeping contingents that now remain are a Ukrainian Aviation Unit and a Pakistani Medical Unit who are supporting the UN presence”.
The UNMIL chief expressed a special “thank you” to Nigeria, while expressing gratitude for all the contributors to the peace operations in Liberia.
“The Nigerians have always been in the forefront of the effort to come to the assistance of Liberia, even without the UN at the time of ECOMOG – ECOWAS Monitoring Group.
“Prior to the UN’s deployment, they (Nigerian peacekeepers) were there as one of the largest contingents.
“So, I think not only we as the UN but also the people and Government of Liberia are very grateful for the support and assistance that they have received from Nigeria,” he said.
He commended the UN peacekeepers in Liberia for their sacrifices and solidarity, saying “solidarity of such an international nature requires sacrifice.
“You leave your home behind, you leave your family behind, you go to a foreign land that you’ve barely known about to help others who are in distress temporarily.
“Coming to the aid of another nation is a matter of pride for them. In fact, when they receive the medals of appreciation from the United Nations, you see that glimmer of pride in their eyes.
“They feel very, very honoured to have been part of the international effort to support a nation in distress.
“So, what is achieved by the Liberians is also seen as a success in the efforts of all the troop and police contributors. We are very, very grateful to them.”
Liberia is scheduled to hold a delayed presidential run-off vote on Dec. 26, to this, Zarif said “hopefully we will meet the timeline for the transition of Government sometime in January”.
Zarif said he was absolutely confident that UNMIL’s deployment was a worthy investment but that there was a whole lot that needs to be done in the future.
“That’s why we are calling for the continued robust engagement of the international community after the withdrawal of UNMIL and its peacekeepers,” the UN envoy said.
According to him, 16,000 military and police personnel, have been downsizing for several years and now deploys slightly more than 700 uniformed personnel.
He added that in 2016, UNMIL transferred all security responsibilities to the Government of Liberia.