9 April 2001


FREETOWN, 6 April (UNAMSIL) -- United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette met yesterday with President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah as part of her three-day visit to Sierra Leone. Explaining the purpose of her visit, Ms. Fréchette told the President that she was particularly interested in the economic, social and humanitarian activities of the United Nations in Sierra Leone and how the United Nations and the Government could more effectively coordinate their efforts. She also said the United Nations must have "good, productive relations" with Sierra Leone’s donor community and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

In response, President Kabbah said his Government was working "extremely well" with the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). He expressed his appreciation of UNAMSIL’s emphasis on development, as demonstrated by the Secretary-General’s recent appointment of Alan Doss as the Deputy Special Representative responsible for governance and stabilization, and appealed to the United Nations for support for the development and disarmament processes in the country.

The Deputy Secretary-General also held separate meetings with Vice-President Albert Joe Demby and Foreign Minister Ahmed Ramadan Dumbuya, as well as other senior government officials. Discussions focused on the Sierra Leone peace process, including the disarmament and resettlement programmes, as well as the need for meaningful development projects in the country. Ms. Fréchette stressed that coordination and collaboration between the United Nations system and NGOs was important to meet the country’s development and humanitarian needs.

Addressing an afternoon gathering of United Nations staff working in Sierra Leone, Ms. Fréchette expressed her appreciation for the contributions they were making to the peace process and the economic reconstruction of the country.

Later in the day, the Deputy Secretary-General met with members of the diplomatic corps to solicit their views on United Nations activities in Sierra Leone. Ms. Fréchette emphasized the need for regional organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to work closely with the United Nations. She also discussed the regional context of the Sierra Leone conflict and ways to accelerate the peace process. In response, the diplomats noted the improvement in coordination and the flow of information between the United Nations and NGOs.

Today, the Deputy Secretary-General will hold meetings with UNAMSIL’s senior officials and representatives of international and local NGOs before departing for Lungi to visit the Bangladeshi Battalion stationed there, as well as various humanitarian projects being supported by the United Nations system. Ms. Fréchette will then travel to Lunsar, about 80 kilometres from Freetown, to visit UNAMSIL peacekeepers recently deployed there.

Ms. Fréchette is scheduled to depart Sierra Leone on Saturday, 7 April.

* *** *