30 January 2007 For the first time in the history of United Nations peacekeeping, an all-female Formed Police Unit (FPU) arrived today in Liberia to join the world body’s operation as it works to strengthen the rule of law and maintain peace in the West African country.
The new officers serving with the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) are “very confident, they are trained, and I think they will perform well out here,” said their commander, Seema Dhundiya.
She emphasized that the Unit, which consists of 103 women performing operational tasks and 22 men doing logistics work, is well-prepared to meet the challenges ahead. “Our contingent has been carved out from a paramilitary force and as far as training is concerned, it is almost on the same line of what army recruits get.”
Ms. Dhundiya pledged that the officers, who are armed with sophisticated weapons, will carry out their work with utmost professionalism. “We are definitely going to perform to the best of our abilities and raise the expectations of our senior authorities and our own country.”
Describing the disembarkation of the female police, UN spokesman Ben Dotsei Malor said they looked sharp and motivated despite having just arrived by air. “Even though they have just come off this flight they look like they are ready for action,” he said.
Mr. Malor emphasized that the Indian blue berets would help the Liberian National Police (LNP) while supporting the work of the UN in the country.
“We hope that the presence of this all-female contingent will serve as an incentive and an attraction to encourage young Liberian women to join the Liberian National Police,” said UNMIL Police Commissioner Mohammed Alhassan.
Ms. Dhundiya was optimistic that her officers could function as role models. “I think the Liberian people are going to welcome us with open arms and more of the local population will get inspired seeing these girls properly dressed, well equipped and probably they will get motivated to join the UN police officers, especially the girls.”
The Indian women “are the right people at the right time to come here now,” said Mr. Malor. “They are professional, skilled, capable, and they will be able to do the job just as well as their male counterparts are already doing on the ground if not better in some instances.”
“The arrival today of the all-female FPU from India is an extra boost to our policing efforts here in Liberia,” agreed Mr. Alhassan.
The new Unit joins 82 female UN police officers serving with UNMIL in various capacities.