Global Policy Forum

Annan Proposes 11,000


By Jerome Hule

PanAfrican News Agency
January 13, 2000

New York, UN - UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has asked the Security Council to expand the UN mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) to 11,000 military personnel from the 6,000 previously authorised. Along with this expansion, Annan also suggested that the mandate of the mission be expanded to encompass the functions that were being performed by Ecomog, the West African peacekeeping force that is now to withdraw from the country when the UN force is fully deployed.

The secretary general had in late December asked the council to increase UNAMSIL's military strength to 10,000, following the decision by Nigeria and other contributors to Ecomog to withdraw their troops. In a resolution in October authorising the establishment of UNAMSIL the council mandated Ecomog to operate alongside with the UN mission, mainly by providing security in the capital city of Freetown, at the Lungi international airport and for the Sierra Leonean government.

Under the new proposals, Annan said, UNAMSIL will have to perform those functions. He has also proposed that the mission be mandated to provide additional security at disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration sites, conduct extensive mobile patrols particularly in Freetown and provide armed escorts on important roads to ensure free flow of people, goods and humanitarian assistance.

The mandate is also to include the deployment of UNAMSIL rapid reaction element and maintaining adequate reserves to ensure its flexibility and sufficient reaction capabilities and reinforcing its positions or patrols when necessary. The secretary general proposed that the expanded mission include 260 military observers, 12 infantry battalions, two military engineering companies, force and sector headquarters personnel, medical personnel, transport and communications units, a helicopter and aviation element and other support elements.

Pointing out that the conflict in Sierra Leone involved mine warfare, Annan said UNAMSIL will also need a mine action capability.

But even as he proposed the expansion of the UNAMSIL, the secretary general underscored the fact that the UN cannot maintain a major military presence in the country for too long. "The government of Sierra Leone and its bilateral donors should therefore develop, as a priority, a credible and reliable mechanism to ensure national security and thereby decrease its dependence on outside assistance," Annan noted.

To this end, he appealed to the international community to make necessary contributions to the restructuring and training of the Sierra Leonean armed forces and the police.

The Security Council, which was briefed Wednesday on the situation in Sierra Leone, is expected to consider the secretary general's report and adopt a resolution at a later date.

Meanwhile, more than 4,000 of the already authorised UNAMSIL troops have been deployed in the country. Contributing countries are Nigeria, Ghana, India, Kenya and Guinea.

More Information on Sierra Leone


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