Last updateSam, 31 Jan 2015 4pm

Sierra Leone: UN shifts to development-focused presence

New York, US - The UN on Wednesday launched a new phase of support in Sierra Leone with the transitioning of its political mission to a more development-focused UN presence.

A UN statement, obtained by PANA in New York, stated that 'the new focus followed the West African nation’s sustained recovery from a brutal civil war and an example to follow for countries still grabbling with conflict'.

It quoted UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as saying: 'Sierra Leone represents one of the world’s most successful cases of post-conflict recovery, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.'

It said that Ban made the remarks at a press conference alongside the Sierra Leonean President, Ernest Bai Koroma, in Freetown on Wednesday.

The UN chief said: 'Here we have seen great strides towards peace, stability and long-term development', and called on other countries to draw hope from Sierra Leone’s 'inspiring example of the power of international solidarity and national resolve to overcome even the most brutal conflicts'.

'I can confirm here officially that the United Nations will continue to stand together with the Government and people of Sierra Leone in their march towards further and more participatory democracy and sustainable development and also promoting human rights,' the statement quoted Ban as stating.

It noted that 15 years after it was established, the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) formally closed and transferred its responsibility to the UN Country Team, which consists of 19 agencies, funds and programmes, based on the UN Development Assistance Framework, known as UNDAF.

He explained that the UN Country team and specialized agencies will carry forward some of UNIPSIL’s residual tasks, including support for the ongoing constitutional review process.

The secretary-general also said that UNDAF will help the Government with implementation of Sierra Leone’s Agenda for Prosperity, a social and economic development strategy for 2013-2018.

The statement said that during his visit, his second to the country, Ban also met with representatives of political parties and civil societies.

For 11 years, Sierra Leone was torn by a civil war after the rebel Revolutionary United Front intervened in an attempt to overthrow the country’s then-President Joseph Momoh.

The conflict, which lasted from 1991 to 2002, was often punctuated by acts of extreme brutality as marauding bands of armed youths terrorized the countryside, conscripting child soldiers and used the amputation of limbs as an intimidation method against civilians.

In November 2012, the country successfully held national presidential, parliamentary and local council elections.

They were the third since the end of the country’s civil war.

Given such signs of real progress in the country, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed last year that UNIPSIL would draw down as of 31 March 2014.

The political mission focused on three main areas: good offices and the facilitation of political dialogue towards a constitutional review process and towards strengthening conflict prevention and resolution processes, security sector support and strengthening of human rights institutions.

Pana 06/03/2014