Kenyan peacekeepers were today awarded UN medals for their contributions to peace in Liberia, which they have made through mentoring Liberia's police, corrections and immigration sectors. In her remarks to the 22-member Contingent, UN Envoy Ellen Margrethe Løj took the opportunity to emphasize the need to “entrench reconciliation in Liberian society”, urging peacekeepers to continue with their efforts to consolidate peace in the country.
“We must encourage Liberians to resolve disputes through reconciliation and learn to co-exist without resorting to violence,” Ms. Løj said.
Citing from a lecture delivered in Oslo, in 2004 by Kenyan Nobel Prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, Ms. Løj underscored the notion of ‘trees as symbols of peace in Africa'. She said, “...the elders of the Kikuyu tribe carried a stick from the thigi tree that, when placed between two disputing sides, prompted them to stop fighting and seek reconciliation.” She added that peacekeepers should “tap into their own intrinsic, cultural wisdom” and do their part to help heal Liberian communities.
Ms. Løj also pointed out that Kenya is one of the few African countries to have embarked on prison reform, with an emphasis on human rights and humane treatment of prisoners. “Kenyans are now using this knowledge to contribute to Liberia's goal of establishing correctional institutions founded on international standards of prison management,” she said.
In her acknowledgment of the Police, she thanked them for the “Utumishi kwa wote” (Kiswahili for “service to all”) approach that has helped to curb criminal activity through support to effective community policing. “In this way, you are contributing to an enabling environment where Liberians can conduct their day-to-day business in peace,” she said.
Lauding the female members of the Contingent for their exemplary advisory services to the Liberia National Police (LNP), she highlighted the professionalism with which they have contributed to efforts aimed at eliminating the exploitation of women and children; as well as sexual and gender-based violence and abuse.
“Your mentoring of LNP officers working in the Women and Children Protection Sections has been an important contribution to the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325,” she said, and added, “It is also my hope that your efforts will, in no small measure, go a long way towards encouraging more Liberian women to serve in the security sector.”
The ceremony was attended by Deputy UN Envoy for Rule of Law, Ms. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu; Force Commander, Lt.-Gen Sikander Afzal; Police Commissioner, Mr. Gautam Sawang; Director of Mission Support, Mr. Hugh Price; Deputy Force Commander, Major General Carl Modey; Special Guests included Kenya's Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Francis Musembi Munyambu; Kenya's Senior Deputy Commissioner of Prisons, Mr. Benjamin Njoga; and Kenyan Contingent Commander, Mr. Paul Kipchumba Leting, among others.