In recognition of "a concrete and tangible step" towards national reconstruction, a senior United Nations official in Sierra Leone has opened two recently rebuilt government offices.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Deputy Special Representative for Sierra Leone, Alan Doss, yesterday commissioned the repaired district offices in the eastern district of Kono and a police station in Blama, near the eastern town of Kenema.
The Kono offices were rebuilt by recently disarmed ex-combatants with funds provided by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Commission for Social Action.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony for the district office, Mr. Doss said the restoration of Government authority in areas previously occupied by the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) was "an important but first step in rebuilding communities; reconciliation is the next step along the road to a prosperous future."
The Deputy Special Representative, who is in charge of the Governance and Stabilization sector for the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), noted that the rehabilitation of the district offices was also a way of getting former fighters to work together. He reminded his audience that while the UN and the international community had invested substantial resources in the country, it was now the responsibility of Sierra Leoneans to cope with the challenges ahead.
Later in the day, Mr. Doss and his entourage flew to Blama to officiate at the opening of the local police station - the second to be rehabilitated in the eastern province. Ex-combatants provided labour for that effort, with additional assistance coming from the Sierra Leone Police, the UN Civilian Police, and the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration.
In his keynote address to that gathering, Mr. Doss said he was pleased that UNAMSIL was assisting in consolidating peace in Sierra Leone through the rehabilitation of police stations. He noted that the law enforcement officers have a vital role to play in society, and stressed that UNAMSIL was "anxious to see the Sierra Leone Police re-established, reinforced and expanded in every district."