The Sierra Leone Web


29TH MAY 2004

Force Commander
Honourable Ministers
Your Excellencies
Distinguished Peacekeepers
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Today is another milestone in the life of peacekeepers all over the world and those in Sierra Leone who are being honoured for their contributions to humanity and to the maintenance of international peace and security.

No other country can appreciate more the value of the services of peacekeepers than Sierra Leone, which, until recently, had the largest peacekeeping force in the world. Without the contribution of UNAMSIL and the support of donors and the International Community as a whole, ending the conflict in Sierra Leone would certainly have been a lot more challenging.

I would like to express on behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone and on my own behalf, appreciation and gratitude to all those who have taken part in peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone.

The role played in Sierra Leone by your predecessors, particularly ECOMOG should never be forgotten. Many of them laid down their lives in response to the call of duty. Our experience of your stay in this country is that where there is war, you restore peace; where there is despair or fear, you bring hope, confidence and reassurance.

In Sierra Leone, I have observed with immense interest the humanitarian assistance being rendered by peacekeepers, apart from their normal duties, in improving the social and spiritual life of the communities in their areas of deployment, through the provision, among others of centres for skill acquisition, libraries, rehabilitation and renovation of schools, community centres, recreation facilities and religious facilities particularly churches and mosques. Their humanitarian gestures have won them the hearts and minds of all Sierra Leoneans especially the beneficiary communities. This is more so now that they have realized that the cost of these facilities have been provided directly from the earnings of the peacekeepers themselves and not from funds provided by the United Nations or the governments sponsoring the Peacekeepers.

It is a matter of great regret that nowadays, Peacekeepers are no longer shielded from the heinous act of terrorism. Member states of the International Community should strive harder to safeguard the lives of peacekeepers so that they can perform their noble jobs without fear or hindrance.

Mr SRSG, Your Excellencies, permit me to pay special tribute to all those countries that have contributed troops and other personnel to this mission and to thank them for sending their noble sons and daughters to Sierra Leone, thousands of miles away from their homeland to render service to a people badly in need of their services. It is quite clear that their efforts have not been in vain, as peace has finally been restored to Sierra Leone and it is being rapidly consolidated.

I should at this point like to express my appreciation and that of all the people of Sierra Leone for the consideration given by the UN for staggering the drawdown of the Peacekeeping Forces as we on our part strengthen our security.

I wish to salute all peacekeepers all over the world and to thank you for your kind invitation and warm reception.