The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) took over peacekeeping operations from the ECOWAS vanguard force, ECOWAS Mission in Liberia (ECOMIL), on 1 October 2003. Approximately 3,600 ECOMIL troops, comprising contingents from Nigeria, Benin, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo were reassigned to UNMIL as United Nations peacekeepers. As of 20 December 2005, UNMIL troop’s strength stood at 14,824 personnel from 49 troop contributing countries. UNMIL started a draw down plan in August 2007 and as of 20 February 2013, UNMIL troop strength stood at 6800 personnel.
The UNMIL Force is currently commanded by Major General Leonard Muriuki Ngondi, Brig. Gen. Sabir Ali is Deputy Force commander and Brig. Gen. Hugh Van Roosen is the Chief of Staff. The UNMIL Force Headquarters is located in Monrovia and has operating forces deployed throughout two sectors comprising of six infantry battalions – including one quick reaction force – and supporting elements. UNMIL Force’s current authorization strength is 6809 with 43 troop-contributing countries represented, including 84 headquarters staff officers, 6592 troops and 133 military observers. Units assigned to the UNMIL Force Headquarters are a Philippine Administrative Company, Chinese Transport Company, Jordan Force Police Unit, Jordan Medical Unit, Nigeria Signal Company, Nepal Military Police Unit and Ukraine Aviation Unit.
The Sector A area of responsibility covers Margibi, Montserrado, Grand Bassa, River Cess, Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Gbarpolu and Sinoe Counties. The Sector Headquarters is located in Monrovia. Military units within the Sector include two Nigeria Infantry Battalions and UNMO Teams 1-5.
The Sector B area of responsibility covers Lofa, Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Maryland and Grand Kru Counties. The Sector Headquarters is based in Gbarnga, Bong County. Military units within this Sector include one Pakistan Infantry Battalions, one Bangladesh Infantry Battalion and one Ghanaian Infantry Battalion, UNMO Teams 6-11, three Level-2 Hospitals (China, Bangladesh and Pakistan), Bangladesh Signal Company, Bangladesh Logistics Company and Bangladesh Military Police unit.
Present Activities of UNMIL Force
UNMIL Force assists the Government of Liberia in maintaining peace and security of the borders, contribute to law and order situations (in coordination with UNPOL and LNP), provide security of vital assets and VIP visits and utilize EOD capability to mitigate UXO. UNMIL Force will protect UN personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, and ensure the security and freedom of movement of its personnel and – without prejudice to the efforts of the government – protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence in accordance with the mandate and relevant policies on protection of civilians.
Military Observers (UNMOs)
UNMOs are deployed to specific area of operations to act as unarmed neutral and impartial representatives of the international community under the auspices of the UN. They act as the “Eyes and Ears” of the UNMIL Force and are tasked to closely monitor and identify any negative impact on security and stability. UNMOs conduct routine mobile patrols visiting preselected locations on a regular basis, aerial patrols to some areas not accessible by road, and special patrols to monitor special events or situations. The UNMOs in effect operate side by side with the formed troops.
UNMIL engineers are presently engaged in rehabilitation of various roads throughout the country as well as maintenance of all main and secondary supply routes, installation and maintenance of bridges and maintenance of runways at the Roberts International Airport, Spriggs Payne Airfield and Greenville Airfield. UNMIL engineers also engage in the disposal of Unexploded Ordnances and various Civilian-Military Coordination (CIMIC) activities.
UNMIL has well established field hospitals and medical units at battalion, sector and force headquarters levels. These hospitals regularly conduct medical outreaches to provide basic health care to the local people. In a week, UNMIL medical establishments provide medical treatment to an average of 1,000 to 1,100 locals throughout Liberia. Presently, their efforts are directed towards the capacity building of Liberian health care and medical institutions.