Peacekeepers Leave Sierra Leone

It was once the United Nation’s biggest peacekeeping force. But now, the last of those soldiers are packing up and leaving Sierra Leone after six years of helping to end that country’s civil war. The U.N.’s mandate in the region has expired, and instead of renewing, the body will leave the country. If the peace holds, it could be a beacon to the rest of West Africa, which is currently engulfed in war.

The Sierra Leone civil war ended in 2002, and resulted in free elections. There have been battles in various parts of the country, over charges of corruption and poverty, and hard feelings still remain among many residents in that country.

Sierra Leone was engulfed in a brutal civil war from 1991 until 2002, which drew fighters in from across West Africa and was one of the most brutal battles in the region. It was started by the Revolutionary United Front, which claimed it was liberating the people from a corrupt government. The group started the war by battling to control the country’s diamond fields. The war’s fighters were often children, kidnapped from their parents, and who went into combat often under the influence of drugs.

Seeking to control the region, the Revolutionary United Front chopped off arms, ears, and feet of civilians. The government also employed such brutal tactics.

The U.N. peacekeeping force was authorized by the Security Council in 1999, and stumbled at first. They helped maintain the cease-fire, which West African and British forces helped to impose.

Still, the country has a long way to go towards prosperity. The country has a 70% unemployment rate. Many people live on less than a dollar a day. Gas prices are going up, and so is the price of food, including rice – the cheapest and most basic mean for most people. There is a threat that people may take to violence to get their most basic needs, but for now, there is peace in that country. And it is continued peace that we pray for. (source)


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