Monrovia, April 4, 2014 – As the world celebrates the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on 4th April, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Liberia, Karin Landgren, has commended the progress being made in building the capacity of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) in handling Explosive Remnants of War (ERW).
Offering her full support to the work of UNMAS, and in particular the significance of this work in Liberia’s security transition, in a letter of support, SRSG Landgren noted that “together, we have an opportunity to make significant impact to grow and sustain Liberian capacity to address threats posed by ERW.”
In 2013, UNMIL military engineers recovered and destroyed explosive remnants of war amounting to an average of three items per week, which not only pose a danger to civilians but could be exploited for unintended purposes, such as illegal blast fishing.
The number of items recovered in Liberia is small in comparison to other countries such as Somalia or Afghanistan, and with limited but consistent additional capacity building within the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Liberia National Police, national management of the ERW problem is achievable within a short time-frame.
Since beginning its operations in Liberia in July 2013, UNMAS has qualified 32 AFL Engineers as intermediate Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) operators and nine LNP instructors to deliver ERW recognition and awareness training.
These 32 AFL operators will act as an aid to the civil power to respond to residual threats from Liberia’s civil war. On December 18, 2013, less than 6 months from the start date of the project, the AFL carried out their first live training task with the support of UNMAS, when they destroyed an item in a rural area of Montserrado County.
The International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action was established by the General Assembly in 2005.
It calls for continued efforts by States, with the assistance of the United Nations and relevant organizations, to foster the establishment and development of national capacities in countries where landmines and explosive remnants of war constitute a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the civilian population.