Opening a new immigration office in a provincial capital in Liberia’s west, a senior United Nations envoy to the country today stressed that cross-border traffic in small arms, light weapons and rebels continues to threaten peace and stability in West Africa.
Jordan Ryan, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Recovery and Governance, called for a comprehensive peace and security strategy for the region as he launched the office in Tubmanburg, capital of Bomi County.
“Liberia is no longer the heart of instability in the region,” he said, according to a press release issued by the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). “The country is making great strides in securing peace and stability, but there are regional challenges of potential threats of cross-border movements of small arms and light weapons, as well as rebels.”
Mr. Ryan said regional peace will only be sustainable if the borders of individual countries are effectively policed.
The $23,000 immigration office opened by Mr. Ryan was funded by UNMIL’s Quick Impact Projects as part of the Mission’s efforts to rebuild the immigration and naturalization bureau, whose facilities were largely destroyed during the country’s devastating civil war between 1989 and 2003.
Liberia has approximately 176 entry points along its borders with Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, but only 36 are staffed by immigration officers, according to the bureau.
Mr. Ryan also handed over the Bomi County office of Liberia’s ministry of gender and development to county authorities after a $14,000 renovation funded by the Quick Impact Projects scheme.
On Saturday, in the town of Caldwell, located near the national capital, Monrovia, Mr. Ryan opened Liberia’s first youth peace-building centre, again funded under the Quick Impacts Projects scheme.
The centre will offer peer-to-peer education about peace, vocational skills training, computer training, youth-led community development projects, literacy courses, health education and HIV/AIDS awareness programmes.