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UN Progress In Supporting Peace In Sierra Leone

UN has made 'significant progress' in supporting peace in Sierra Leone

5 May 2008 - The United Nations mission in Sierra Leone has made "significant progress" in supporting the Government to consolidate peace in the country, by strengthening the security sector, by promoting human rights and the rule of law, and by helping prepare for upcoming elections, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report.

However, Mr. Ban also cautions that the "the country continues to experience political tension along ethnic and regional lines" and cites high unemployment, poor economic and social conditions, and the rising price of food and gasoline, as other factors which "have the potential to derail the peace consolidation process."

While the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) has helped the country prepare for local council elections in July, Mr. Ban says it is "critical that the main political parties put aside their differences in the interest of consolidating peace in the country," and calls on the Government to "provide leadership in promoting national reconciliation."

The Secretary-General says that UNIOSIL has contributed to improved security in the nation by training and mentoring the country's police force, and by supporting the professionalization of Sierra Leone's armed forces, but he adds that the "rule of law sector still faces serious challenges which will continue to require the support of the international community."

He announces that the current UN mission will withdraw in September and recommends that it be replaced by a UN integrated peacebuilding office, to be known as UNIPSIL, which "holistically addresses the political, economic and peacebuilding challenges facing the country." UNIOSIL was set up in 2006 to help the Government consolidate the country's hard-won peace following a brutal, 11-year conflict, and to tackle a wide range of challenges related to good governance, security, human rights and development.

ENDS

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