Sierra Leone

Despite some progress, violations of Sierra Leone peace accord continue, Secretary-General says

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Despite some progress in implementing the peace agreement for Sierra Leone, human rights abuses and other violations are continuing, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a new report released today.
In his first report to the Security Council on the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), the Secretary-General notes that some progress has been made in the implementation of the Lomé Agreement, which brought to an end the country's bloody and brutal civil war.

However, the Secretary-General points out that serious human rights abuses, ceasefire violations, extensive troop and weapons movement and the targeting of humanitarian personnel "give cause for very serious concern."

"The continued violence against the people of Sierra Leone and international personnel is unacceptable and perpetrators should expect to be held accountable for their actions," the Secretary-General writes. Arbitrary clearance procedures and threats are also obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance. "This should stop," the Secretary-General says.

The report also notes that there is an urgent need to strengthen and accelerate the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants. The initial response to the start of the DDR programme, as it is known, has been very poor as less than 10 per cent of the estimated 45,000 fighters have registered in the camps set up to collect weapons.

The leaders of the rebel groups need to prove by their actions that they are committed to the peace process, the Secretary-General says, particularly by ending all hostilities and adhering to international human rights standards and humanitarian law.

"Now that the main mechanisms for ceasefire monitoring and disarmament are in place, the responsibility rests with the leaders of the rebel movements to advance the peace process in Sierra Leone," Mr. Annan stresses.

Meanwhile, UNAMSIL's new Force Commander, Major-General Vijay Kumar Jetley of India, arrived in Freetown today. The Indian contingent, which will include the Force Headquarters and a security element of the Indian battalion, were also scheduled to arrive today.