Peacekeeping: Victory Declared in Liberia

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January 1, 2008: The UN has declared its peacekeeping mission in Liberia at an end. The peacekeepers went in five years ago, after eleven years of civil war ended. A year ago, the peacekeeping force was reduced to 350 personnel, down from a peak of 15,000 in 2004. Next September, all peacekeepers will be gone. Over 12,000 fighters were disarmed, and thousands of bandits were killed or forced to disarm. The country is still a mess, but the economy is coming back to life, and several rounds of elections have been held. Fifty peacekeepers died, from disease and hostile action, during the past five years.

Most of the heavy lifting was out of the way by early 2005. At that point, most of the known rebel and army troops had been disarmed, and the UN declared 13 of the counties 15 counties safe enough to receive returning refugees. There were then some 850,000 refugees to deal with, 350,000 of them outside the country. After years of living off food aid, in refugee camps, most of these have since returned to their farms and other property. The fighting between rebels and soldiers, plus the looting by these forces, and bandits, have left most of these farms looted and burned. Homes and businesses were also destroyed. Burned out ruins are still a common sight throughout the country. Foreign aid provided tools, seed and building materials so that the refugees could become self-sustaining. Schools and clinics are still being rebuilt as well.

 


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