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Sierra Leone border patrols against infiltration

Sierra Leone: UN mission steps up border patrols against infiltration from Liberia

The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) has stepped up around-the-clock air, land and river patrols along the West African country’s borders with Guinea and Liberia to prevent illegal infiltration resulting from efforts to disarm former combatants in Liberia’s civil wars.

“It is particularly important to interdict attempts to smuggle, relocate and hide weapons and military equipment in Sierra Leone, at a time when UNMIL [UN Mission in Liberia] forces are poised to expand their presence and control in Liberia, especially towards the border areas,” UNAMSIL said today.

“UNAMSIL, in collaboration with the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces and the Sierra Leone Police, is now carrying out a vigorous, around the clock, patrol programme, on land, air and river,” it added.

The patrols use night-vision equipment, sensors and flares for surveillance and border monitoring operations.

The mission pledged to inform the local population of these operations so as not to create alarm over the increased security and the use of illumination pyrotechnics.

In Liberia, UNMIL is suspending its disarmament operations mid-December to January so that it can improve conditions at Camp Schieffelin, located outside Monrovia, the capital, and to facilitate the overall process.

So far, more than 8,000 former Liberian combatants have turned in weapons there in the operation, which was marred on its first days last week by a spate of banditry, looting of humanitarian supplies and random shooting by ex-combatants seeking immediate payment of a stipend.

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