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Security Council extends mandate of UN mission in Sierra Leone as it winds down

Security Council extends mandate of UN mission in Sierra Leone as it winds down

Extending the life of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) until the end of next June, the Security Council today welcomed the progressive scaling down of its size and urged the West African country’s Government to accelerate its efforts to establish viable institutions so that it can take full responsibility for law and order.

In a unanimous vote, the 15 Council members agreed to continue the work of the UNAMSIL until 30 June 2005 in line with a request from Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his latest report.

The resolution also outlined the tasks of UNAMSIL after 1 January, when its presence is reduced to help the Sierra Leonean Government assume authority over institutions such as the police, the armed forces, the judiciary and the penal system.

There will be fewer than 5,000 UNAMSIL troops by the start of next year, well below its capacity of 17,500 military personnel when the Mission began in October 1999. UNAMSIL’s civilian staff contingent is also being reduced.

The Council resolution follows Mr. Annan’s report earlier this week, which found that Sierra Leone is making gradual progress towards stability and peace but many problems remain, especially in security.

Sierra Leone’s army still lacks the logistical, communications, accommodation and transport capacities necessary to do its work effectively across the whole of the country.

But the report praised the rising revenue from diamond exports and the successful disarmament and reintegration of thousands of former combatants from Sierra Leone’s long-running civil war.