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A glimmer of hope

The UN operation in Sierra Leone provides a glimpse of hope for successful UN operations in the African continent, where there is a long gap between success stories.


The last 1700 UN troops left the capital, Freetown, on December 31, 2005. At the beginning of the new year, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said: “The UN mission has overcome a number of political and military challenges, leaving Sierra Leone much better. land than it was five years ago. ”

However, the political success is threatened by a number of economic problems that are looming for the West African country. UN special envoy to Sierra Leone Daudi Mwakawago sums up the problem briefly: "Poverty is the biggest threat to the country's stability." According to a UN source, unemployment is as high as 70 percent, which of course creates a security problem now and in the near future.

Annan has also pointed out that the need for help is no less, and expressed concern that success can be ruined if there is a belief that Sierra Leone no longer needs help. Lack of international support can cause the conflict to flare up again.

The British aid organization Oxfam is somewhat more optimistic. The organization's envoy to Sierra Leone, Marcus Thompson, told the IPS news agency: "We are confident that Sierra Leone will remain peaceful, given a stable and secure environment in which the country's development will continue in partnership with the international community."

"This is Sierra Leone's chance to prove to the world that the country takes its commitments to human rights, peace and its own future seriously," Thompson said. The country's increasing income from diamond mining offers hope in the fight against poverty. Diamond exports rose from $ 10 million in 2000 to $ 130 million in 2004.

The UN operation, which started in 1999, consisted mostly of 17,500 soldiers from a number of countries, including military observers from Norway and Sweden. One of the greatest successes was the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of more than 75,000 soldiers from various factions, many of these children. The UN operation contributed to the successes of the 2002 and 2004 elections, and helped the government fight for control of diamond mining. The UN soldiers have also provided security at the war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone.

There will be a new election in Sierra Leone in 2007, and according to the UN envoy Mwakawago, a free and fair election in 2007 will give the international community the security it needs, as well as ensure the stability of the country. All equipment left behind by the UN force is transferred to the government, including military vehicles and communications equipment. A number of countries have also promised military equipment to the government, with trucks from Switzerland, patrol boats from the United States and China, and a number of other military vehicles from the Netherlands.

Annan has also said that the successful UN operation in Sierra Leone will be used as a model for other ongoing UN operations.

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