Sierra Leone

UN peacekeepers successfully deploy in rebel heartland in Sierra Leone

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After repeated obstructions by rebel forces, United Nations peacekeeping troops in Sierra Leone have now successfully deployed in the heart of the area controlled by Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a UN spokesman said today in New York.
Spokesman Fred Eckhard said a company of more than 100 Indian troops and six military observers had reached the eastern Sierra Leone town of Kailahun last Thursday and had immediately begun to set up.

The UN troops found the humanitarian situation in the town to be "grim," the spokesman said, adding that the people had "no food, no water, no medicines."

The peacekeepers, whose first priority is increasing local water supply, are also planning a reconnaissance mission tomorrow to investigate possible sites for a disarmament centre.

Meanwhile the head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Bernard Miyet, met in Freetown today with President Kabbah and was also expected to meet former rebel leaders Johnny Paul Koroma and Foday Sankoh.

Mr. Miyet, who arrived in Sierra Leone on Sunday, has already visited two disarmament camps and centres for child ex-combatants and children separated from their parents. He also traveled to several team sites of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).