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UN Peacekeepers Depart Sierra Leone to High Praise

UN Peacekeepers Depart Sierra Leone to High Praise from Annan

New York, Dec 15 2005 3:00PM

As 290 of the remaining peacekeepers of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) departed today, two weeks short of the end of their mandate to cement the peace after a brutal civil war, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he viewed mission’s accomplishments “with a deep sense of satisfaction.”

“The trials and tribulations faced by the mission during the crisis of 2000, the measures taken to reverse its fortunes, and its achievements between 2001 and today, are indeed remarkable,” Mr. Annan said in his last report to the Security Council on UNAMSIL, referring to mission’s recovery from the resurgence of violence in the country in which UN headquarters in Freetown were overrun and destroyed.

“The mission’s recovery from the 2000 ordeal offers a wealth of lessons for current and future peacekeeping operations,” he added, saying that those lessons were already being studied by other missions for best practices.

Over the past six years, he said, UNAMSIL forged an effective partnership with the UN country team, countries of the subregion, the donor community, humanitarian organizations, Sierra Leone civil society and the Government, which has placed the country on “a firm path to post-conflict recovery.”

Mr. Annan said that UNAMSIL broke ground in a number of significant areas, among them its arrangement with forces of the United Kingdom to augment its security efforts following the crisis period.

He noted that formidable tasks remain for the country as it pursues its post-conflict peacebuilding agenda. The socio-economic situation, in particular, had the potential to undermine the current political stability.

For that reason, he said it was imperative for the country to redouble its efforts to address corruption, pursue economic growth and continue security reform, supported by its development partners.

He also noted that although most blue helmets were leaving, the UN was staying in Sierra Leone in the form of the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) that would continue the process of peace consolidation.

In Freetown, meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Daudi Mwakawago, turned over to the government some 25 light vehicles and hundreds of radios today.


ENDS

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