DDRR Begins Today in Nimba County
...UNMIL Pakistani troops awarded UN Service medals


The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 18, 2004

As preparation to begin disarmament and demobilization in Nimba County has been concluded, UNMIL authorities have indeed confirmed that the exercise is to begin today in Ganta.

This was confirmed when the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for Operations and Rule, Ambassador Souren Seraydarian, paid a familiarization visit in Ganta on Friday and announced that the exercise will begin on August 17, 2004. He said, "It is very important that we finish the DDRR in Nimba County, which is one of the most volatile counties earlier. We have to get this region back to normalcy."

During the visit, Amb. Seraydarian met with various NGOs that are expected to provide services to the DD sites during the period the exercise will last for. The service providers include Premiere Urgence, World Food Program, Lutheran World Federation, IFC among others.

All the service providers expressed that they were ready to commence the DD exercise on Tuesday.

Sector III Commander Brig. Gen. Fazle Akbar disclosed that his troops are ready to begin disarmament in Nimba County. He added that they have taken extra measures to ensure the success of the disarmament exercise.
A Bangladeshi Officer, Capt. Abuzar told Amb. Seraydarian at the D-2 site in Kpein, Nimba County that pick-up points in the county have been identified as Sacleapea, Ganta and Sanniquellie, Yekepa and Loguatuo.
He said during the exercise, women and children will be separated from the adult combatants and placed in the interim care center. Ex-combatants will stay for four days at the demobilization camps after which they will be discharged.
Capt. Abuzar said his troops have placed the necessary security details into motion to protect the sites while the process is ongoing.

UNMIL Public Information Community Outreach Team was deployed in the Ganta area since Sunday, 15 Aug. 2004 to sensitize the local people and ex-combatants on the DDRR exercise and UNMIL Radio has begun broadcasting messages on DDRR in Mano and Gio specifically aimed at Nimba County and has established radio signals from Ganta to serve the local population.

Meanwhile, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of UN Operations in Liberia, Jacques Paul Klein, on Saturday, 14 August, awarded UN Service Medals to the Pakistani contingent deployed in the country at a ceremony that coincided with the celebration of Pakistan’s Independence Day.

Awarding the medals to the second largest peacekeeping contingent in Liberia at its headquarters in Tubmanburg, Mr. Klein praised the Pakistani soldiers for their role in securing "an end to war, large scale bloodshed and anarchy" in Liberia.

"You have been standing shoulder to shoulder with us since December 2003, contributing to the establishment of peace and stability in a country ravaged by years of war. For this you have earned the gratitude not only of the United Nations, but even more importantly, of those whom your help means the most-the people of Liberia," Mr. Klein told the peacekeepers.

The Commander of the Pakistani contingent, Brig. Gen. Irfan Azan, noted that his soldiers were the first peacekeepers to be deployed outside Monrovia by the UN mission. He said the contingent had so far disarmed to 15,000 combatants and rendered medical assistance to more than 40,000 Liberians in Bomi, Cape Mount and Lofa counties.

The 2740-strong Pakistani contingent deployed in Sectors I and II, consists of two Mechanized Infantry Battalions, two Engineering Units and a Road and Air Field Unit. A 70-member medical team runs a Level II hospital in Tubmanburg and frequently conducts free medical camps in outlying areas for local residents. Pakistani soldiers have repaired several roads and bridges and renovated buildings, including health centres and schools.

Pakistani began contributing to peacekeeping operations in 1960 and, with over 9,000 military and police personnel currently serving in nine peacekeeping missions, it is today the world’s second largest troops contributing nation to UN peacekeeping. Nearly 4,000 Pakistani soldiers are currently serving in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Also present during the ceremony were Souren Seraydarian, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, UNMIL Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Daniel Opande, and members of the diplomatic corps.

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