United Nations mission in Sierra Leone

United Nations mission in Sierra Leone

United Nations mission in Sierra Leone

(1991-2001) dates from 1995, when a special UN envoy was appointed, accompanied by a number of military observers, to try and negotiate a settlement and restore civil order. But as the situation worsened and atrocities became more widespread, it was clear that a more concerted effort was required. In October 1999, to help implement a tentative peace agreement of a few months earlier, the UN substantially increased its involvement with the establishment of UNAMSIL (United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone).

Initially UNAMSIL comprised 6,000 military personnel and 260 military observers from some 30 countries; later the Security Council upped the military component of UNAMSIL to 11,100, then 13,000 and finally 17,500 personnel. Over the course of its mandate, UNAMSIL disarmed tens of thousands of former fighters, helped rebuild infrastructure, re-train a police force and re-establish government services. It was also instrumental in the fight against ‘blood’ or ‘conflict’ diamonds, sold illegally to fund arms purchases.

When the war officially ended, UNAMSIL assisted with the first free-and-fair national election and was central to the massive task of working with the return of displaced people and the restoration of basic community services. UNAMSIL’s mandate was considered to have been successfully completed in December 2005. It was followed by a new UN mission, UNIOSL (United Nations Integrated Office for Sierra Leone), set up to help consolidate the peace.