Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with the leader of Sierra Leone and survivors of the country’s brutal civil war today, capping off his five-country tour of Africa.
In the capital, Freetown, he met with President Ernest Bai Koroma and attended a soccer game between amputees from the West African nation’s decade-long conflict.
He also visited the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), the United Nations-backed war crimes tribunal set up to deal with the worst acts committed during civil war which ended in 2002.
The Special Court is an independent tribunal established jointly by Sierra Leone’s Government and the UN in 2002. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed in the country after 30 November 1996.
Mr. Ban arrived in Sierra Leone from Benin, where over the weekend, he held extensive talks with President Boni Yayi on the country’s upcoming elections, climate change and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline.
Visiting a seaside site which has been particularly hard-hit by coastal erosion, he told reporters the scene was both strike and alarming.
Before departing for Sierra Leone today, the Secretary-General told the people of Benin in a televised address in the southern city of Cotonou that next year’s presidential and parliamentary polls will be a test of the country’s well-established democratic tradition.
Mr. Ban’s latest trip to Africa – the second of three to the continent this month alone – also took him to South Africa, Burundi and Cameroon.
Early this month, he visited Malawi and Uganda, and later in June he will travel to Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where a UN peacekeeping mission – known as MONUC – has been in operation for 11 years.
In May, the Security Council agreed to transform the operation into a stabilization mission in the coming weeks, authorizing the withdrawal of up to 2,000 UN military personnel by 30 June this year from areas where security has improved enough to allow their removal.