Mandate of UN mission in Liberia extended another year

A year after it set up the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to stabilize the West African country following an end to 14 years of civil war, the Security Council today extended the operation’s mandate for another 12 months and welcomed the progress it was making in disarming the nation’s thousands of ex-combatants.In a resolution adopted unanimously, Council members extended the life of UNMIL until 19 September 2005 and called on Liberia’s political parties to work together so that free and fair elections can take place, as scheduled, by October next year.The resolution also praised the role played by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support the peace process in a country that has been torn apart by civil war for much of its modern history.Earlier this week, in a report to the Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the Mission was making great progress, citing the disarmament of an estimated 70,000 former combatants and the deployment of UNMIL troops across Liberia. Security has therefore improved and humanitarian aid can be distributed more smoothly.But Mr. Annan said the programme to rehabilitate and reintegrate the former fighters who have given up their weapons did not have enough funds, and called on international donors to make up the shortfall.Today’s Council resolution backs that request and also asks donors to fulfil the pledges they made at the International Reconstruction Conference in February.UNMIL had 15,763 troops, military observers and police officers in place on 31 August and has an approved budget of $864 million for the year until 30 June 2005. read more