As the deployment of United Nations troops continued in Sierra Leone, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette today began a four-day trip to the country, where she is expected to meet with the nation's president and foreign minister, as well as UN staff members.
Tomorrow, Mrs. Fréchette is scheduled to hold separate discussions with President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah and his Foreign Minister before meeting with UN staff.
The Deputy Secretary-General will meet on Friday with senior officials of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and representatives of international and local non-governmental organizations before departing for Port Loko, where she plans to visit disarmament, demobilization and reintegration centres, as well as camps for internally displaced persons.
Meanwhile, UNAMSIL has reported continuing deployment of UN peacekeepers in the country. "We've deployed to Lunsar, and we've deployed to Mange and we will continue on our deployment plans," military spokesman Major M.M. Yerima told the press yesterday.
The deployment, Major Yerima said, will be "strong," with UN troops able "to respond robustly" to any challenges.
Referring to the capture by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of 500 peacekeepers during the last UN troop deployment in May 2000, the spokesman said the main problem then had been "thin deployment."
"At the time of the May crisis, unfortunately the RUF decided to violate the Lomé Peace Agreement by taking our personnel hostage," Major Yerima said. "When the peacekeepers were deployed, we thought they were being deployed in what was a situation of peace. We have learned from that experience."