Sierra Leone

More former rebel fighters in Sierra Leone laying down arms, UN says

Sierra Leone has seen a surge in the disarmament of former members of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) after rebel leader Foday Sankoh talked to his men, a United Nations spokesman said today.
More than 500 ex-combatants registered and surrendered their weapons, bringing to 1, 342 the number from the RUF who have now disarmed. Nearly 500 members of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and 515 from the Civil Defence Force have also laid down their weapons.

Despite this latest development, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that about 700 people arrived at the border with Guinea yesterday, reportedly fleeing attacks by rebels in north-western Sierra Leone. There are already 192,000 Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea, which is hosting close to 500,000 refugees from neighbouring African countries.

Meanwhile, the first group of 130 UN peacekeepers from Kenya landed in Sierra Leone at 9:30 p.m. local time yesterday, later than expected. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Francis Okelo welcomed them, at a ceremony early this morning.