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Liberia: UN troops work to prevent border violence

UN troops in Liberia work to prevent cross-border violence from Côte d'Ivoire

Aiming to prevent the spread of recent instability in Côte d'Ivoire , the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) is conducting exercises along the border between the two countries, officials with the world body said today.

The measures also are intended to reassure the population in the area of UNMIL's ability to maintain security throughout the country, UNMIL said.

Elite Irish and Swedish troops, which comprise UNMIL's most mobile force, are carrying out the border exercises.

On Friday, the head of UNMIL, Alan Doss, was in the area with a number of senior Liberian officials. They were briefed by the troops, who are formed in a “Quick Reaction Force.”

The Quick Reaction Force is conducting extensive around-the-clock patrols along a 300-kilometre stretch of the densely forested and hilly border utilizing tracked all-terrain vehicles, armored personnel carriers and four wheel drive jeeps.

UNMIL helicopters are supporting the Quick Reaction Force by operating air reconnaissance missions as well as inserting troops into remote areas not accessible by roads to conduct foot patrols.

Intensive contact is maintained with the local population to gather information about the possible existence of weapons in the area and to detect if there have been any attempts to recruit Liberian ex-combatants to fight across the border.

UNMIL said local people have “warmly received” the troops and have told the patrols they feel reassured by their presence.

Speaking to journalists who accompanied the delegation, Mr. Doss said UNMIL would not want the insecurity in Cote d'Ivoire to undermine the hard-earned peace in Liberia. He emphasized that UNMIL would continue to provide the security environment necessary for the new Liberian Government to get on with the business of rebuilding the country after decades of violence and instability.

Mr. Doss also stressed that UNMIL would continue to maintain a robust military presence in Liberia because “without security there cannot be stability, and without stability there cannot be development.”

While in the southeastern Liberian town of Fishtown, the delegation was also briefed by UNMIL's Chinese Engineering Battalion about its extensive efforts to rebuild Liberia's road infrastructure. The unit has already repaired more than 700 kilometers of road, constructed numerous bridges and culverts. The contingent will soon repair the bridge connecting Fishtown and Harper to open up the area to commerce and development.

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