Recent information from Africa seems not to be so disturbing for the world community. This is the continent where the UN has achieved considerable success in the settlement of conflicts. The events in Sierra Leone depict this.
This West-African country is famous for its rich diamond fields. Those who control the fields hold the power at the same time. Until the beginning of the 1990s, the political situation in Sierra Leone was more or less stable, but then a civil war broke out. The ambitions of Fode Sanko, the leader of the United Revolution Front, forced the UN Security Council to pay attention to the problems in Sierra Leone. In 1991, the UN Security Council decided to send a peacekeeping contingent of 6,000 people to Sierra Leone. The situation has stabilized for some time. However, at the beginning of 1999, a civil war broke out once again, and this time, it was worse. Attempts of Sierra Leone’s government to gain control over the diamond fields captured by the Front’s militants failed. Fode Sanko wanted to seize the power, but the UN interfered with the situation once again. The UN Security Council decided to increase the peacekeeping contingent to 11,000 people; however, it had no effect. The crisis was aggravated more, because the front’s militants started capturing hostages, soldiers and civilians of the UN contingent were among them. The humanitarian aid was plundered. The events made the UN sanction the use of armed force. Ships of the British Navy reached Sierra Leone. British paratroopers rescued the hostages and organized mass evacuations of foreigners. Russians were among them. At the same time, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan spoke about the expansion of peacekeepers. It was to be done not only by Africans but the USA and its European allies as well. However, these very countries did not want to send their soldiers to Sierra Leone. They still remember the failure of the US-led peacemaking operation in Somalia. As a result, Russia and Ukraine sent their peacekeepers to Sierra Leone. The peacekeepers prevented the plundering of humanitarian aid and contributed to the peaceful settlement in the region.
Now, the situation in Sierra Leone is becoming stable. The first elections in several years are to take place soon.
RIA Novosti informs that Russia’s Foreign Ministry hopes the elections will secure a settlement of the conflict and stabilization in the country. Let us hope that this forecast will come true. The peaceful process in Sierra Leone and participation of Russian peacekeepers meet the interests of the state. Russian companies can also take part in the development of the diamond fields in Sierra Leone.
The events in Sierra Leone demonstrate that the UN is still powerful and takes care of the countries neglected by the USA. Therefore, talk about the UN being outdated is senseless and improvident.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/01/18/35700.html