3 January 2006

Secretary-General Praises UN Sierra Leone Peacekeeping Mission as Mandate Concludes; Says UN Will Remain Active, Helping Country's Development

NEW YORK, 30 December (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) will successfully complete its mandate on 31 December 2005. The mission was able to overcome a number of serious political and military challenges to become an effective peacekeeping operation that leaves Sierra Leone much better off today than it was five years ago. Its many achievements include the successful disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of more than 75,000 ex-combatants; playing a central role in the preparation and conduct of the 2002 and 2004 elections; providing critical assistance and training to stand up the country's security sector; supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; assisting the Government in reasserting its control over diamond-mining; and providing protection to the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The people of Sierra Leone, assisted by the international community, have put the country on the path of economic recovery. But much remains to be done. The United Nations will remain active in the country, helping the Government and people of Sierra Leone in addressing the root causes of the conflict and capacity-building. The Secretary-General calls upon all Sierra Leoneans to take advantage of this unique opportunity to build on the success they have made with UNAMSIL's help, as the future of the country belongs to them.

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