UNMIL Declares Many Areas Safe

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted May 13, 2004

United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), has declared several areas in the country reasonably safe for civil administration and for humanitarian organizations to go in to carry out their operations.

At its regular Wednesday briefing yesterday, UNMIL said about 85 percent of the country is well secured and conducive for both local and international non-governmental organizations to begin humanitarian activities.

According to the Deputy Force Commander of UNMIL, Gen. Joseph Owonibi, all areas under their control are now ready for civil administration and humanitarian assistance.

Gen. Owonibi named Voinjama, Kakata, Gbarnga, Buchanan, Cestos City, Tubmanburg and Rivercess and all other areas under UNMIL’s control.

“ Non-governmental organizations can now go to areas which were once unsafe to do their humanitarian work”, Gen. Owonibi proudly declared relative to the improvement in the security situation.

The tough-spoken Nigerian officer said at the moment UNMIL is not in some parts of Nimba, Sinoe, Grand Kru and Harper.

He however, was optimistic that in the shortest possible time UNMIL will establish a permanent presence in those areas.

Gen. Owonibi speaking on the update of the UNMIL’s strength said, of the 15,000 troops required, there are 14,127 troops on the ground. He said if other countries expected to contribute troops could make available their men, UNMIL will complete the deployment throughout the country.

The UNMIL’s Deputy Force Commander like other speakers including National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (NCDDRR), Dr. Moses Jarbo; Police Commissioner, Mark A. Kroeker; Head of UNMIL DDRR Section, Clive Jachnik; and DDRR Program and Policy Advisor, Charles Achodo, spoke highly about the ongoing DDRR process.

Addressing journalists yesterday at UNMIL’s Headquarters in the former German Embassy Compound in Congo Town, the UNMIL officials commended all stakeholders for their level of cooperation which they said, has been responsible for the successful implementation of the exercise thus far.

Gen. Owonibi and Mr. Jachnik said all those qualified to go through the DDRR program will be catered to. They said the conclusion of technical details for the erection of additional cantonment sites in other parts of the country was to be completed by last night.

They said the sites will cater to combatants who find themselves far away from the already erected disarmament sites.

Meanwhile, Dr. Jarbo said over 60,000 combatants are expected to be disarmed.

He said earlier reports of about 40,000 ex-combatants earmarked for the DDRR was not a figure given by UNMIL but a figure projected to the international community.

Although the NCDDRR’s boss did not say exactly how many ex-combatants are in the country, Dr. Jarbo maintained over 60,000 have been gathered from assessment made thus far.

At the press briefing, it was revealed that after 27 days of DDRR exercise 25,921 ex-combatants have so far disarmed with over 8,000 already completing the demobilization phase.

In a related development, the speakers at yesterday’s briefing made a passionate plea for the acceptance of former combatants that have gone through the DD exercise into society.

© 2004: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.