UN peace mission ends 15 years of history with Sierra Leone

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UN Police and security sector experts from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on a visit to eastern Sierra Leone to assess the security situation in the region bordering Guinea and Liberia. UN Photo/Silke von Brockhausen

The United Nations peace mission is leaving Sierra Leone, once home to the largest peacekeeping force in the history of the organization, after 15 years of engagement.

More than 17,000 "blue helmets" were deployed at the height of Sierra Leone's civil war to disarm rebel militias and return this West African nation to stability.

31 March 2014 marks the official end of the UN Integrated Peace building Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL).  The civilian political mission was established in 2008 to help consolidate peace.

However, the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) which consists of 17 UN agencies, funds and programmes will remain in the country.

Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen, the Head of UNIPSIL said the time was ripe.

"I think more memorable I would say is what led to the closure of UNIPSIL and that was the fantastic success the country had in its elections in 2012 where I was deeply touched by when I went out to the different polling stations and saw women with their babies strapped to their backs standing in line in the sun ready to vote. They exercised their civic duties there and the results of all of that is that we had a peaceful elections and a government that was put in place peacefully and that was a signal to the world that that was the third time in a row that they had had elections and this shows that the country has reached a stage where peacekeeping as such as no longer necessary."

The United Nations has helped the Government to combat illicit diamond mining that fuelled the conflict, and to establish control over the affected areas.

Sierra Leone also became the first country in Africa to establish, with UN backing, a tribunal to address the most serious international crimes that was based in the territory where the crimes were committed.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2’01”

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