The international community is often left to bemoan the fact that it lacks effective early warning tools for major humanitarian crises and conflicts. Yet, today in Liberia it is presented with almost a textbook case of all the major warning signs of a deteriorating situation across a range of political, military, economic and social fronts.
Sierra Leone continues to make remarkable progress in ending its eleven-year civil war. There is no longer active fighting, and the army and police are fully deployed across the country.
While the international community has made great strides in improving the security situation in Sierra Leone, Liberia remains a wellspring for continued conflict stretching across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The news is mostly good from Sierra Leone where significant strides are being made in the peace process. With the arrival of a Nepali battalion, the United Nations Mission (UNAMSIL) has nearly reached its force ceiling of 17,500.
The international community is ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the durability of the peace it has supported in Sierra Leone. There are indeed some reasons for growing optimism. The deployment of a more robust United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), the disarmament of almost one half of the combatants, and the extension of government authority to almost all territory not controlled by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group are all welcome.
Sierra Leone is a human tragedy of massive proportions that is rapidly becoming a security nightmare for all West Africa. Two-thirds of Sierra Leone’s population are thought to have been displaced during the ten-year civil war. Another 600,000 have become refugees in neighbouring countries.