by Benson Agoha
The United Nations has announced plans to close its political office in Sierra Leone, as the West African Nation, for several years turn by a bitter civil war, has returned to increasing recovery.
On Wednesday 5 March 2014, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon commended Sierra Leone successful transition from a country turn apart by several years of acrimonious civil war to one with increasing focus on a peaceful future.
The UN Scribe, who was on a visit to Sierra Leone said the country represented one of the world’s most successful cases of post-conflict recovery, peacekeeping and peace-building.
Addressing a joint press conference with President Ernest Bai Koroma in Freetown, Ban Ki Moon reportedly told the media that ".. we have seen great strides towards peace, stability and long-term development,” and, called on other countries to draw hope from Sierra Leone’s “inspiring example of the power of international solidarity and national resolve to overcome even the most brutal conflicts.”
The United Nations announced plans to close its peace-building office in the country, the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), established fifteen years ago. The closure means its responsibility will be transferred to UN Country Team, which consists of 19 agencies, funds and programmes, based on the UN Development Assistance Framework, known as UNDAF.
However, the closure means the UN is shifting its focus from peace-building to long-term development, the UN Scribe said, adding “I can confirm here officially that the United Nations will continue to stand together with the Government and people of Sierra Leone in their march toward further and more participatory democracy and sustainable development and also promoting human rights.”
The statement said the UN Country team and specialized agencies will carry forward some of UNIPSIL’s residual tasks, including support for the ongoing constitutional review process, while the UNDAF will help the Government press ahead with implementation of Sierra Leone’s Agenda for Prosperity, a social and economic development strategy for 2013-2018.
Sierra Leone's contributions of police and armed forces, to the efforts of the UN and African Union peacekeeping missions around the world was recognised by Mr. Ban Ki Moon as “a strong vote of confidence in the value of UN blue helmets from a country that once hosted the largest UN peacekeeping operation in the world.”
The Secretary General's visit to Sierra Leone was his second since becoming UN Scribe, even as the closure was seen as a real progress in the country's political mission whose three main focus areas were "good offices and the facilitation of political dialogue towards a constitutional review process and towards strengthening conflict prevention and resolution processes; security sector support; and strengthening of human rights institutions."
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