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DATE=11/15/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=SIERRA LEONE-U-N (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-256198 BYLINE=JOHN MARK DATELINE=NEW YORK CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A leading U-N humanitarian official said today (Monday) that the peace process between the government of Sierra Leone and rebel forces is at a critical juncture. V-O-A's John Mark in New York prepared this report. TEXT: Carolyn McAskie, United Nations Acting Emergency Relief Coordinator, says the parties to the peace agreement designed to end fighting in Sierra Leone have been slow to implement it, although she believes they are starting to move forward. Ms. McAskie, who has just returned to U-N headquarters after spending about a week in Sierra Leone, told reporters that violations of the ceasefire in northern parts of the country seem to have died down. /// FIRST MCASKIE ACT /// We have had statements by the former rebel leaders, Foday Sankoh and Johnny Paul Koroma, who are now part of the official government of Sierra Leone, to their field commanders that they must stop the fighting and they must in fact now present themselves for what is known as the D-D-R, the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Process, which is the key now to moving forward. /// END ACT /// Ms. McAskie says the major priority now in moving the Sierra Leone peace process forward is insuring that the rebels are brought into the demobilization camps and are persuaded to give up their arms. The target, the U-N official says, is about 45-thousand soldiers. As of last Friday, she adds, there were about 15 hundred people, a sign, she says, that the message is getting through. But Ms. McAskie says the absence of food to feed people in the demobilization camps and the funds to reintegrate them into Sierra Leone would be a threat to the peace process. A special appeal for funds for Sierra Leone will be issued by U-N Secretary-General Annan next week. Ms. McAskie told reporters there is general agreement that until the arms in Sierra Leone are removed, humanitarian workers will not be able to reach the people. /// SECOND MCASKIE ACT /// Despite the signing of the peace agreement in June, we are now in the middle of November and there are still very large tracks of the country where we can't reach the victims and provide the humanitarian assistance that has been denied them for so long. /// END ACT /// Ms. McAskie says there are half a million or more Sierra Leonean refugees in camps in neighboring countries and they are waiting for peace before they re-enter the country. But she predicts that once the disarmament process is over, there could be a very sudden movement of people back into Sierra Leone. (Signed) NEB/JHM/LSF/TVM 15-Nov-1999 17:10 PM EDT (15-Nov-1999 2210 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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