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DATE=10/22/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=U-N- SIERRA LEONE (L-0) NUMBER=2-255378 BYLINE=BARBARA SCHOETZAU DATELINE=NEW YORK CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The United Nations Security Council voted today (Friday) to authorize a peacekeeping force for Sierra Leone, the largest such force in several years. Correspondent Barbara Schoetzau reports from New York. TEXT: The six-thousand peacekeepers are being sent to the West African nation to help implement a July peace agreement that calls for power sharing between the government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and rebel forces. The peacekeeping mission is being sent for an initial period of six months to supervise the disarmament and demobilization of combatants. The Nigerian-led force, ECOMOG, that restored the elected government a year ago, will remain in charge of security matters. U-N officials say most of Sierra Leone's four-and-one- half-million people have been uprooted during eight years of brutal conflict. More than 50-thousand people have been killed. Observers say women and children have been the major victims of the war. Olara Otunnu, the United Nations Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, recently visited Sierra Leone. He says the most daunting long-term challenge facing the nation is the crisis of young people. //// OTUNNU ACT /// The children of Sierra Leone have suffered beyond belief. Many children have been deliberately maimed with their limbs brutally cut off. The youngest child I met, who is now 10 year old, had his leg cut off by the rebels when he was barely two months old. Thousands of children have been serving as child soldiers in the three main fighting groups. //// END ACT //// The U-N resolution also urges the Sierra Leone government to implement the peace pact's recommendations to set up a human rights commission and a truth and reconciliation commission. Speaking with reporters, U-N Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Affairs Bernard Miyet said he expects the peacekeepers to be dispatched to Sierra Leone within 30 to 60 days. It is the largest force the United Nations has authorized since 1996 when almost six-thousand peacekeepers were sent to Croatia. (Signed) NEB/NY/BJS/LSF/ENE/JP 22-Oct-1999 14:05 PM EDT (22-Oct-1999 1805 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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