Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Liberia gets all-female peacekeeping force

A unit of United Nations peacekeepers with a difference has arrived for work in Liberia - they are all women. More than 100 female peacekeepers from India are there to work as an armed police unit to help stabilise Liberia which, after years of war, is trying to rebuild its own police force from scratch.

Stepping off the chartered plane in immaculate blue uniforms and berets, the 103 women were immediately on parade and probably bewildered by the media frenzy. It is just a coincidence that the first all-female peacekeeping force is in Liberia, the first African country to elect a female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Crime is high especially in Monrovia and the war has left a degree of violence simmering just below the surface.

But having served in turbulent areas, including parts of northern India, the commander Seema Dhundiya says they are well prepared.

"These girls are experienced and have been trained. They have worked in areas of India where there was insurgency. They will do a good job and the Liberian ladies will get motivated and inspired to come forward and join the regular police."

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