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UN envoy for children and armed conflict to visit Sierra Leone

UN envoy for children and armed conflict to visit Sierra Leone

Olara Otunnu
Following-up on previous missions to Sierra Leone, a United Nations envoy is heading to that country over the weekend to assess the status of war-affected children in the post-conflict phase.

Over the course of his weeklong visit, Olara Otunnu, the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, is expected to address the impact of the decade-long conflict on children in Sierra Leone during his meetings with President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, government officials, and senior staff of the UN peacekeeping mission.

The office of the Special Representative said children and youth had been forcibly conscripted, displaced, deprived of education and basic care and often subject to sexual exploitation and abuse during the country's civil war. Some of these problems persist while new ones, such as streets children, have subsequently arisen.

Mr. Otunnu undertook missions to Sierra Leone in 1999 and 2000, during which he proposed an “Agenda for Action for the Children of Sierra Leone.” Two of his initiatives, the National Commission for War-Affected Children and the Voice of Children – a radio station run by and for youngsters – will be inaugurated during his visit.