Freetown, Sierra Leone - UN Envoy Ellen Margrethe Løj, has awarded two hundred and fifty members of the Mongolian Guard Force peacekeeping medals for their role in contributing to peace-building efforts and the dispensation of justice while guarding the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
In her remarks in Freetown on 21 December, Ms. Løj warmly referred to the peacekeepers as the UN's Red Heroes - a term popularly coined to denote Mongolia's Capital - Ulan Bator and said
"Your contributions have had a positive impact here in Sierra Leone and in the entire West African region."
Envoy Løj honored them for providing security for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is mandated to try those bearing the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian and Sierra Leonean Law, committed during the conflict in the country. Ms. Løj further acknowledged the role the Mongolians recently played in ensuring security during the transfer of eight persons convicted by the Court to Rwanda to serve their sentences.
The UN Mission in Sierra Leone ended its operations at the end of 2005. Earlier that year, the Security Council mandated the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to take on the task of providing security to the detainees and the Court, and Mongolia accepted the responsibility.
The ceremony was attended by: Sierra Leone's Assistant Chief of Defence Staff, Operations and Plans, Brigadier-General KSM Mondeh; Mr. Hagoss Gebremedhin; Officer-in-Charge, United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL); Acting Registrar of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Ms. Binta Mansaray; UNMIL Force Commander, Lieutenant General Sikander Afzal; Director of Mission Support, Mr. Stephen Lieberman; and Senior UNMIL Military and Civilian Officials.