United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Madam Ban Soon-taek travelled from Accra, Ghana, to Monrovia, Liberia in the afternoon of Monday, 21 April.
Upon arrival at Roberts International Airport, the Secretary-General was greeted by an honour guard and received the traditional Liberian welcome gift of a live chicken, rice and kola nuts.
At City Hall, he was given the keys to the city by Mayoress Ophelia Hoff-Saytumah, making him an honorary citizen of the Liberian capital.
On Tuesday morning, after meeting with international and national civilian staff, and military and police officers of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the Secretary-General met with Vice-President Joseph Boakai and Members of the Cabinet. They discussed recovery efforts since the war and the challenges ahead for Liberia, as well as the peacebuilding projects under way.
That morning, he also addressed a joint session of Liberia’s legislature, telling the Parliamentarians that he had come to the country to see its remarkable achievements in recovering from a devastating conflict, and to reassure the Liberian people of his steadfast commitment to peace, stability and prosperity in their nation. (See Press Release SG/SM/11535)
He noted that UNMIL had embarked on the first phase of its drawdown, adding that he would recommend to the Security Council that there be a gradual and phased drawdown of the Mission’s military and police components, linked to the Government’s ability to assume full responsibility for its national security.
The Secretary-General later spoke to the press before leaving Liberia, saying that the recent worldwide protests over soaring global food prices has demonstrated the need for Liberia to meet the Millennium Development Goals in order to be safe from the weaknesses of globalization, while taking advantage of its myriad opportunities for growth and prosperity.
He added that it is regrettable that rape continues to be the most commonly committed crime in Liberia, and he called on community leaders, Government leaders, traditional chiefs, elders and prominent Liberians to take the lead in combating the scourge of rape and other acts of sexual and gender-based violence.
Following a luncheon hosted by the Vice-President at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Secretary-General and his delegation departed to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.