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West Africa contribution to peacekeeping praised

UN envoy to Liberia praises West Africa for police contribution to peacekeeping

Stressing the essential role of United Nations police in peacekeeping missions, the world body’s top envoy to Liberia praised West African countries for their personnel contributions and urged all countries to send more women officers for police units.

The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) said today that Alan Doss had conveyed his thanks to a visiting delegation of senior police officials from Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, who are on a five-day visit to Liberia to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by a state that is emerging from more than a decade of bloody civil war.

“The primacy of civilian policing is a key pillar in the restoration of a failed state,” Mr. Doss was quoted as saying, adding that the training, advising and mentoring provided by UN Police to Liberia’s own force was a key element of the overall UN mission in the country.

The press release said that the visit by the West African officials had been organized by the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in Ottawa, Canada, and Mr. Doss commended it for a project aimed at helping to develop the capacity of West African police. The delegation also included representatives from the Economic Community of West African States and the Pearson Centre itself.

The release went on to say that as the UN Police is now increasingly engaged in building the skills and capacity of local police officers, a main challenge faced by the UN is to find skilled police personnel capable of training, mentoring and advising their counterparts in post-conflict environments.

Mr. Doss called on contributing countries to send more women police officers “as women are greatly underrepresented in UN police operations,” and he also stressed the importance of sending officers who adhere to high standards of conduct.

The police component of the UN mission in Liberia (UNMIL) numbers almost 1,100 officers and since its inception in 2003 it has worked closely with its Liberian counterparts and is now gradually changing strategy and handing over “local ownership of all policing functions,” the component’s Deputy Police Commissioner Ingrid Dagestad told the UN News Service in a recent interview.

“The whole UN police mission has to shift focus where each and every one of us will have a stronger advisory role at the strategic, tactical and operational level, and in a mission-wide perspective, have an integrated approach in communities around the country,” she added.

UNMIL’s police component also runs one of the largest training programmes ever conducted by a peacekeeping mission. Ms. Dagestad said that more than 1,300 Liberian officers had graduated from the UN-assisted Police Academy and are now deployed into service.

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