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Sierra Leone has made great strides, UN peacebuilding official says

Sierra Leone has made great strides, UN peacebuilding official says

A senior United Nations peacebuilding official today wrapped up a week-long visit to Sierra Leone by praising the tremendous recent efforts made by the West African nation in consolidating stability but cautioning that much work remains to be done.

Dutch Ambassador Frank Majoor – who chairs the Peacebuilding Commission’s Sierra Leone meetings on that country – met with Government officials to witness first-hand the situation on the ground following last month’s elections.

During his tri, which began on 9 October and ended yesterday, he held discussions with President Ernest Bai Koroma, Vice President Sam Sumana, Parliament members, UN representatives, diplomats and other officials, and civil society representatives.

In his meetings, he advanced discussion on the development of the Peacebuilding Commission Cooperation Framework, an agreed plan of commitments and priorities on such issues as good governance, justice, security sector reform and youth employment.

Mr. Majoor also stressed that the Commission (PBC) – established in December 2005 to help countries recovering from war avoid a relapse into violence and chaos – will assist in tackling reform in key areas such as the justice sector, governance, human rights, the security sector, youth employment, civil service and capacity building.

The body, he stressed, can also help in promoting such major challenges to sustainable peace, including gender empowerment, health, education, energy, water and sanitation and infrastructure in Sierra Leone, which was torn apart by a brutal 10-year civil war.

“In all these the PBC can play a critical role to assist the new Government,” the Ambassador noted.

Characterizing the recent presidential and parliamentary elections as a “turning point,” he commended the country’s police and military for their role in providing security and said they must be bolstered to continue performing their duties.

The Commission brings together key actors, including international donors, international financial institutions, national governments from focus countries, troop contributor countries, UN bodies and civil society representatives, to promote a common approach to helping a country emerge from conflict.

Sierra Leone was selected as one of the first two countries on the agenda of the Commission, and it has begun received money already from the related Peacebuildng Fund, a multi-year standing trust fund that has an initial funding target of $250 million and so far has collected deposits worth almost $144 million from donor countries. The other country selected by the Commission was Burundi.