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In Sierra Leone, UK Prime Minister Blair lauds UN peacekeeping effort

In Sierra Leone, UK Prime Minister Blair lauds UN peacekeeping effort

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, has congratulated the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) for restoring peace to the war-ravaged country, while pledging London’s ongoing support for development in the West African nation.

During a meeting on Saturday in Freetown with Oluyemi Adeniji, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sierra Leone, Mr. Blair was briefed on developments in the peace process. Mr. Adeniji emphasized the need to reintegrate ex-combatants, reconstruct communities and extend the Government’s authority throughout the country.

Mr. Adeniji also briefed the British Prime Minister on the status of the voter registration process and the support being provided by UNAMSIL to the National Electoral Commission in advance of May’s elections. Emphasizing the need for continued international commitment to Sierra Leone, the UN official urged the British Government to take the lead in encouraging other donors to contribute to the country’s reconstruction.

For his part, the Prime Minister said the United Kingdom would maintain a long-term commitment to Sierra Leone as well as the rest of the African continent, and that the UK Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, would pay a follow-up visit to the region in the coming weeks.

In another development, representatives of a dozen donor nations and international organizations urged greater support for Sierra Leone following a week-long tour of the country.

Welcoming their visit, Alan Doss, the UN Coordinator in Sierra Leone, told the press on Friday that the response from donors had been “extremely” positive. “There was no indication of donor fatigue, but a real willingness to assist,” he said.

Also speaking to reporters, a representative from the Netherlands said he was “shocked” by the amount of devastation in the areas the team visited. A representative from Sweden said there was no more important challenge than to create a peaceful environment so that people could go back to their villages and live normal lives.

Several donor representatives expressed satisfaction with the peaceful and secure environment that has been established by UNAMSIL.