Global Policy Forum

Sankoh Accepts UNAMSIL at Last


By Abu Talib Jalloh

Concord Times (Freetown)
March 21, 2000

Freetown - The UN Under-Secretary General for peacekeeping operations, Mr. Bernard Miyet yesterday told pressmen that he has been able to convince Chairman Foday Sankoh to recognize UNAMSIL as a legitimate neutral force in Sierra Leone, bringing hopes that this might enable the UN troops to deploy across the country without hindrance.

Miyet said Sankoh was told that the presence of UNAMSIL all over the country will be the best guarantee to create the confidence necessary for a speedy return to normality in the country. The rest of the 11,000 UN troops are expected in the country by the end of July. "There is a clear willingness of the countries to come here, to commit their young soldiers here," the UN diplomat said. He said the international community was determined to bring confidence to Sierra Leone. "Whatever we will do to support you we will do", he added.

About ECOWAS, Mr. Miyet said the two organizations (ECOWAS and UN) were in full cooperation and he praised the Malian President Alpha Oumar Konare and ECOWAS Executive Secretary Lansana Kuyateh, for their efforts in trying to consolidate peace in Sierra Leone.

Miyet however stressed that no matter what the international community does, the bunk stops with Sierra Leoneans, especially the leaders. "Your leaders have signed an agreement, it is up to them to make the future possible for you. Only Sierra Leoneans themselves can truly help this country. We will only do our best," he stressed.

Indian Ghurkas Consolidate in Kailahun

By Idrissa Conteh

Concord Times (Freetown)
March 20, 2000

Freetown - In what has been hailed as a major break through in the peace process, UNAMSIL has deployed 107 Indian peacekeeping troops and 6 military observers in Kailahun town, a major strong hold of the RUF.

UNAMSIL Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Vijay Jetley, who visited the area on Saturday, told reporters that the troops deployed on Thursday. He noted that the civil war had left much of Kailahun in ruins. Jetley added that engineers would be improving the roads as quickly as possible to allow aid to reach the area.

The United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative to Sierra Leone, Oluyemi Adeniji said: "successive deployments in rebel held territory will change the image of the RUF to the outside world."

UNAMSIL Public Information Officer, Philip Winslow, described the situation for civilians as "grim" with widespread hunger, no water and no medicine. Winslow said the RUF hospital in the town had about 16 patients, including four RUF fighters with bullet and shrapnel wounds 8-12 months old, unhealed due to lack of medicine. UNAMSIL found between 2,000 and 2,500 residents in Kailahun, mostly members of the RUF and their dependents.

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