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UN envoy lauds Ghana’s move to place female troops in forward positions in peacekeeping

Source: Douglas T. Coffman -UN.ORG

Buchanan, Liberia – The Republic of Ghana has won kudos from the UN envoy in Liberia, Ellen Margrethe Løj, for deploying in the country the first group of female soldiers to forward positions in peacekeeping. She described the move as a milestone in the history of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and that of the UN peacekeeping operations worldwide. Speaking at a colourful ceremony in the Liberian port city of Buchanan at which she decorated Ghanaian soldiers with UN Peacekeeping medal, Ms. Løj praised the courage and resolve of the 54 women in the 700-strong contingent.

“Your resolve has been tried and tested in the strenuous conditions you have endured,” she told the female soldiers, noting that their accomplishments were a practical demonstration by the UN that “it makes a difference to have gender balance in security institutions.” The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) further praised Ghana for blazing the trail on improving female representation in the security sector by deploying the highest percentage of women in the military among all UN troop-contributing countries. She expressed the gratitude of the UN to the government of Ghana for the close collaboration it had extended to UNMIL, and for availing the best of its military to serve the cause of peace.

Highlighting the longstanding relationship between Ghana and Liberia, SRSG Løj recalled the sacrifices Ghana made in Liberia during the sub-regional group ECOWAS' two peacekeeping missions that preceded UNMIL. “We remember those days with a heavy heart, as the long, treacherous road to peace resulted in the ultimate sacrifice for many Ghanaians,” she noted. “Ghana continues to play an active role in Liberia's future development through its participation in the International Contact Group,” she added.

Acknowledging that Liberia's economic recovery is intrinsically linked to the country's security, Ms. Løj regretted that the global financial crisis had negatively impacted the economic revitalization of the country. However, she said the financial crunch, “painful as it is, provides an opportunity for Liberia and its partners to put in place measures to further diversify the country's economy and create the resilience it needs to deal with future possible economic shocks.” Buchanan which is gradually developing into an industrial hub provides a good platform for that. She called for increased agricultural production in Liberia, and diversification into manufacturing and services, to provide jobs for the unemployed and disenchanted youth.

Dignitaries present at the ceremony included Deputy SRSG for Rule of Law, Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu; Ghanaian Ambassador to Liberia, Kenneth Bosompem; UNPOL Commissioner Gautam Sawang; Deputy UNMIL Force Commander, Maj.-Gen. Carl Modey; Military Chief of Staff, Brig.-Gen. Raphael Isa; Director of Mission Support, Hubert Price; Sector 'A' Commander, Brig.-Gen. Ebiobowei Awal; and Ghanaian Contingent Commander, Col. Emmanuel Tetteh-Akonor. Others were Commandant of the Ghana Military Academy and Training Schools, Rear Admiral Mohammed Munir Tahiru, who headed the Ghanaian government delegation to the ceremony, and Grand Bassa County and security officials.