Sierra Leone

First UN peacekeepers arrive in Sierra Leone

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The first group of United Nations peacekeepers arrived in Sierra Leone today as part of a new 6,000-strong UN force to support the peace agreement that ended the country's bloody civil war.
Greeting the contingent of 135 Kenyan troops on their arrival in Lungi, Francis Okelo, the Special Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said the soldiers' presence marked the high point in UN support for the consolidation of peace and stability in Sierra Leone following the signing of the Lome Peace Accord four months ago.

Among other tasks, the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) will assist the Government in the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan, monitor adherence to the ceasefire and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The peacekeeping troops will work together with some 220 UN military observers from 30 countries who are already on the ground in Sierra Leone.

UNAMSIL will be led by Major General Vijay Kumar Jetley of India, who was appointed last week by the Secretary-General as the Mission's Force Commander. Major General Jetley is scheduled to take up his responsibilities in Sierra Leone during the first week of December.