UNMIL chief concerned about returning Liberian mercenaries
"We are concerned about the return of alleged Ivorian fighters and Liberian mercenaries into the territory of Liberia" says UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Liberia Ellen Margrethe LOJ in Dakar Saturday.
Attending the 21st meeting of heads of UN peace keeping missions in West Africa, Mrs. LOJ said the first and foremost concern is "weapons that might be transported across the border" citing few incidence in some towns in the border area where “AK 47 has been used in arm robberies".
She acknowledged some Liberians have been arrested but the country's justice needs evidence before it brings them to court.
Mrs. LOJ said most of the crossings and incidences are taking place in "informal and illegal" crossing points on the most inaccessible areas of the seven hundred-kilometer long border between Ivory Coast and Liberia.
According to the UN special envoy to Liberia most of those crossing points are hardly accessible by road due to huge lack of road infrastructure “the big big challenge is the infrastructure”
She said UNMIL troops failed to reach one of the points by roads and had to do it by air. Still big efforts are underway to address the situation as Mrs. LOJ announced that UNMIL battalions in Nimba County and one covering Maryland, River Gee County have been reinforced with reserve forces to help handle the situation.
Cooperation between UNMIL troops and national security institutions to “augment our presence at the border” has increased and “very close cooperation with sharing in information, patrolling, supporting as best as we can” has been established said Ellen Margrethe LOJ.
The UN Mission in Liberia and her sister mission in Ivory Coast are also in discussion as “how to coordinate in order to monitor the border” she said.