From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
United Nations Has Some Good News on Sierra Leone
By Sylvia O. Blyden & Abdul K. Kabia
Feb 6, 2009, 17:28

The first report of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) has revealed some good news and some bad news. Probably the two most positive news are that the police, military and security institutions are to be hailed for their professionalism as well as that of the efforts made so far to combat the shameful rate at which children and women were dying in the country, which has started to pay dividend. It will be recalled that one of the pet projects of the First Lady, Sia Koroma was to support her husbandís efforts to reduce these abysmal rates in the country. Well, if the latest UN report is anything to go by, then the country has some good news to rejoice over.

Commander in Chief Ernest Koroma

"Infant, child and maternal mortality rates have declined sharply, with support from the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Childrenís Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)" says part of the 14 paged report by the United Nations Secretary General.

First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma

Also in the UNís report is a reflection of the professional standing of the Nationís security forces (Military and Police) under the current leadership of Major General A.C. Nelson-Williams and Inspector General Brima Acha Kamara.

Chief of Defence Staff Major General Nelson Williams


"Major security institutions have continued to improve, with UNIPSIL providing substantial input in developing appropriate policing standards, while armed forces reform has advanced."

Police IG Brima Acha Kamara

The Report also mentions the laudable moves by the Ernest Koroma led All Peopleís Congress (APC) Government to follow the footsteps of the erstwhile Tejan Kabbah led Sierra Leone Peopleís Party (SLPP) Government as far as the respect for the rights of citizens was concerned.

"The country continued to register a consistent trend towards respect for civil and political rights."

According to the UN, another positive development in Sierra Leone is the fact that, "the Government has made the fight against corruption a key element of its reform plan".

The report however raises some concern over drug trafficking which it cites as the biggest threat to Sierra Leone. A full UN News Item on the 14 paged report is reproduced in this edition. The report itself will be serialized in our next week editions.

International drug trafficking poses biggest threat to Sierra Leone

3 February 2009 Ė Although Sierra Leone continues to progress in consolidating peace six year after a devastating civil war, more remains to be done to make the achievements irreversible, with international drug trafficking posing a critical threat to stability in the impoverished West African country and the region at large, according to a United Nations report released today.

"Illicit drug trafficking, a new phenomenon with huge potential for disrupting the security and socio-economic stability of the country, and indeed the region, has to be addressed before it takes root and poses even greater dangers," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in the report to the Security Council, noting the increasing use of Sierra Leone for transhipment of drugs from South America to Europe.

"Cocaine trafficking represents the biggest single threat to Sierra Leone, especially since drug trafficking tends to be accompanied by arms and human trafficking, corruption and the subversion of legitimate State institutions," he adds.

It is "critical" that the international community continue to support the country in combating the menace as well as in fighting sea piracy and supporting the overall process of peacebuilding, he stresses. Various UN agencies are currently helping the operations of the national drug interdiction force

The report is the first since the October opening of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), the latest in a series of UN missions over the past 10 years that have helped the country get back on its feet from a horrific 10-year war that killed tens of thousands of people and injured countless others, many of whom had their limbs amputated by rebel forces.

In it, Mr. Ban charts the progress made and the challenges that still lie ahead, highlighting the need for all segments of the country, including the Government, political parties and civil society to work together to enhance national cohesion and political reconciliation and the urgency of making greater efforts to meet crucial socio-economic demands, including poor infrastructure and an extremely low revenue base.

He stresses that urgent action is vital to combat youth unemployment, which remains "the most acute concern" in a country where the young constitute the largest proportion of the population, while calling on both the Government and the international community to ensure that the victims of the war receive the care and rehabilitation they need.

On the plus side, he notes that the Government has made the fight against corruption a key element of its reform plan, with the help of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and that infant, child and maternal mortality rates have declined sharply, with support from the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Childrenís Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Major security institutions have continued to improve, with UNIPSIL providing substantial input in developing appropriate policing standards, while armed forces reform has advanced. The country continued to register a consistent trend towards respect for civil and political rights, and for the first time in its history there appears to be a change of attitude about female genital mutilation, with some traditional chiefs pledging not to subject anyone under 18 to the practice.

Meanwhile, overall economic performance has been mixed with gross domestic product growing at an encouraging 6 per cent in 2008, but economic risks in 2009 include a decline in official development assistance, the high cost of food and fuel, reduction in export revenues due to a slowdown in mining activities, and a decline in remittances from abroad due to the global recession.

Sierra Leone is one of the first two countries, along with Burundi, to receive support from the UN Peacebuilding Commission, established in 2005 to help post-conflict countries avoid slipping back into chaos and to determine the priority areas for rebuilding out of the vast array of challenges they face.

More than 90 per cent of the $35 million granted to Sierra Leone from the Peacebuilding Fund has been used on 14 projects ranging from anti-corruption, decentralization and local governance to the development of an independent national broadcasting service.



© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.