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Report: Progress in Liberia could unravel

BRUSSELS, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Progress on securing Liberia could unravel if international attention continues to wane, according to a report from the International Crisis Group.

Five years since the civil war ended in Liberia in 2003, U.N. peacekeepers with support from the international community have worked to help secure the country from instability. Yet despite the overthrow of President Charles Taylor and ongoing efforts to train and support a new army apparatus, major gaps in reforms remain, the Crisis Group reported.

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The report, released Tuesday by the Belgium-based independent non-governmental organization, says newly trained security personnel in the country face widespread public dissatisfaction that has resulted in mob justice and a concern about the army's actual ability to protect the country.

With the United Nations beginning to end operations in Liberia and the U.S. private contractors hired to train the country's security forces expected to draw down, critics say any progress made since 2003 could be lost. The report calls on the international community to continue a mandate and ensure lasting security in Liberia.

"The police desperately need a combination of managerial expertise, strategic vision and -- once benchmarks have been set for its use -- a major increase in resources," Francois Grignon, Crisis Group Africa program director, said in a statement.

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"Unless partners, especially the U.S. and the U.N., maintain their efforts to make Liberia more secure and stable for the next few years, the investment made since the end of the war could easily unravel."

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