ARCHIVED - Canadian Forces to Contribute Officers to UN Mission in Liberia

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News Release / September 23, 2003 / Project number: NR-03.104

OTTAWA - Up to four Canadian Forces officers will deploy on Operation LIANE, the Canadian contribution to the United Nations (UN) Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), from late September until early November 2003.

The officers will deploy with the Stand-by High-Readiness Brigade for UN operations (SHIRBRIG). The four Canada-based officers are non-permanent, or "augmentation" members of the SHIRBRIG headquarters planning staff.

"The people of Liberia need the aid of the international community, and Canada is committed to answering every request we can," said the Honourable John McCallum, Minister of National Defence. "Sending these four officers to support the UN is only part of the Canadian effort. Both CIDA and DFAIT are providing people and resources to help ease the suffering of the people of Liberia."

SHIRBRIG was asked to provide officers to assist with the transition of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Military Mission in Liberia (ECOMIL) elements to UN command and control, before handing over to the main Force Headquarters on November 1, 2003.

Canadian aid for internally displaced Liberians and Liberian refugees focuses on emergency relief, food assistance, health care, water supply and sanitation, and is implemented through reputable partners such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières and UNICEF. Since September 2002, CIDA has allocated more than $8.4 million to West Africa, including a humanitarian assistance contribution, announced in July 2003, of $1.75 million for Liberia and neighbouring countries. About $3 million has been earmarked for relief projects in Liberia, with more than $1.3 million designated for Liberian refugees in neighbouring countries.

SHIRBRIG was established in 1996 as a non-standing multinational high-readiness brigade based on the United Nations Standby Arrangement System. Member countries decide on a case-by-case basis whether to participate in specific missions. Current full participants in SHIRBRIG include Austria, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden. Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal and Slovenia have all signed at least one of the SHIRBRIG agreement documents, and Chile, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Jordan and Senegal are observers. Canada holds the presidency until December 2003.

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