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UN mission chief visits eastern Sierra Leone to assess recent influx of refugees

UN mission chief visits eastern Sierra Leone to assess recent influx of refugees

Senior officials from the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) have visited the eastern part of the country to assess the recent influx of refugees and returnees as well as the security situation in the area, the Mission said today.

UNAMSIL chief Oluyemi Adeniji visited the eastern district of Kailahun yesterday, accompanied by the Commander of the UN peacekeeping for, Lt. Gen. Daniel I. Opande, and other senior UNAMSIL officials.

In his briefing to Mr. Adeniji and his entourage, the commanding officer of the Pakistani Battalion, Lt. Col. Ahmad Nawaz, noted that the security situation in his area was calm and indicated that over 14,000 Sierra Leonean returnees and about 6,600 Liberian refugees have crossed over from Liberia into the area over the past month.

Lt. Col. Nawaz also stressed the acute shortage of infrastructure and other amenities in the Kailahun area, with consequent effects on the resettled and returning citizens. The commanding officer added that the battalion has been providing the people with free medical camps, blood donations, safe drinking water and sporting activities. The UN peacekeepers were also helping to refurbish schools, rehabilitate roads and have donated garments and other humanitarian items.

Mr. Adeniji and his team later met with the representatives of district authorities, the Sierra Leone Police, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, traditional leaders, and members of the civil society at the Pakistani headquarters.

During the meeting, Sulaiman Senge Koroma, the District Officer, said district administration had resumed with most functionaries now back in place. He lamented, however, that hospitals, schools and the local prison were not functioning well due to a lack of facilities. He commended the close cooperation and support of UNAMSIL’s Civil Affairs Section since he arrived in Kailahun earlier in the year.