Global Policy Forum

Sierra Leone Rebels Block UN Troops


By Phyllis Bennis *

January 5, 2000
BBC News

Kenyans were the first UN troops to arrive in Sierra Leone. Rebels in Sierra Leone have stopped a detachment of United Nations peacekeepers from entering a rebel-held town. UN forces are in the process of being deployed across the country to disarm and demobilise former combatants.

BBC correspondent Sylvestre Rogers, who was travelling with the 450 Kenyan peacekeepers, said rebel soldiers would not let them enter the town of Makeni. The rebels, who included members of both the Revolutionary United Front and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, said the UN troops had to show proof of clearance from rebel commanders. The UN soldiers insisted they had authorisation. But the rebels would not listen, and the situation became more tense as a rebel colonel arrived with reinforcements.


The BBC correspondent said the colonel was "very discourteous" to his Kenyan counterpart, who acted diplomatically throughout the confrontation - despite "accidental" gunfire by a 14-year-old rebel fighter. The Kenyans eventually had to return to the base from which they had come. One rebel officer said that if Nigerian soldiers had approached the town, the rebels would have opened fire without asking questions.

Nigerian troops are currently preparing to leave Sierra Leone, having led the Sierra Leonean government's fight against the rebels for the past decade. The incident near Makeni is the latest setback in a process which has already suffered delays. In one notable success for the peacekeepers, a Ghanaian contingent has gone to Daru in eastern Sierra Leone - a diamond-producing centre formerly controlled by the rebels.

More Information and Articles on Sierra Leone


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