UNMIL Ukrainian peacekeepers’ role crucial to stability in West Africa sub-region, says UN Envoy as
Monrovia, Liberia – On Friday, 3 June, officers of the Ukrainian Aviation Unit of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) were rewarded for their achievements in maintaining peace and stability in Liberia, and the West African sub-region as a whole. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Ellen Margrethe Løj praised the Ukrainian peacekeepers for working as “true ambassadors of peace,” noting that the Ukrainian Government responded positively to the request of the UN to support the UN Mission in Ivory Coast (UNOCI). She said this response became evident as UNOCI grappled with the post-election crisis in Ivory Coast. “Your actions contributed to the resolution of the conflict,” the SRSG told the proud Ukrainian air ambassadors as enshrined in their motto: “Take off to the sky maintaining the peace.”
A recent meeting of the heads of UN missions in West Africa held in Dakar, Senegal noted this support and welcomed the ending of the electoral crisis and positive developments of the political situation in Côte d'Ivoire notably marked by the inauguration of President Alassane Ouattara in the presence of a number of dignitaries, including the UN Secretary General. They also expressed concerns for the continuing refugee crisis along the border with Côte d’Ivoire, where UNHCR reports that over 180,000 refugees have crossed into Liberia since the beginning of the Ivorian crisis.
As a result of the crisis in Ivory Coast, UNMIL has conducted re-deployment of its military force to ensure increased monitoring of the 700 km-long border between the two countries. The Ukrainian Aviation Unit is a major part of this effort to monitor this long and porous border.
Urging Liberians to replicate the peace and democracy in Ukraine, SRSG Løj said “building and consolidating peace is a collective responsibility of all.” She spoke of eight years of unbroken peace in Liberia, attributing it to the fine partnership between the UN, the Liberian Government and people, and other partners. “We want to preserve this hard earned peace in Liberia,” she emphasized. Ms. Løj wants all of the gains made in Liberia to be defended and safeguarded through another cycle of peaceful, credible and transparent elections this year.
The SRSG, paying tribute to the 275 Ukrainian peacekeepers for their outstanding contribution in Liberia and Ivory Coast, made special reference to one of their colleagues, Major Sulin Viacheslav who died while serving with UNMIL. “He paid the ultimate sacrifice while helping people in need.”