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Security Council extends UN Mission in Sierra Leone for six months

Security Council extends UN Mission in Sierra Leone for six months

The Security Council today unanimously extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) for six months, until 30 September, stressing the importance of continued support by the Mission to the Government in the consolidation of peace and security after the country's elections in May.

In a wide-ranging resolution, the Council urged the Government, with UNAMSIL's assistance, to accelerate the restoration of civil authority and public services throughout the country, in particular in the diamond mining areas, including the deployment of key government personnel and police and the deployment of the Sierra Leone Army on border security tasks.

The Council also welcomed the establishment of the electoral component of UNAMSIL and the recruitment of 30 additional civilian police advisers to support the Government and the Sierra Leone police in preparing for the presidential and parliamentary elections slated for 14 May.

The resolution further welcomed the military concept of operations for UNAMSIL for 2002, the main objective of which is to ensure effective security for the forthcoming elections.

By its resolution, the Council expressed "serious concern" at allegations that some United Nations personnel might have been involved in sexual abuse of women and children in camps for refugees and internally displaced people in the region.

The Council supported Secretary-General Kofi Annan's policy of "zero tolerance" for such abuse and asked him to make recommendations on how to prevent any such crimes in the future. The 15-member body called on the countries concerned to take the necessary measures to bring to justice their own nationals responsible for such crimes.

The Council also voiced its serious concern at the violence, particularly sexual violence, suffered by women and children during the conflict in Sierra Leone, as well as evidence by UNAMSIL of human rights abuses and breaches of humanitarian law. It requested the Secretary-General, in his next report in September, to provide a further assessment of the situation of women and children who had suffered during the conflict.