COUNCIL, EXTENDING UNAMSIL MANDATE UNTIL 8 SEPTEMBER, EXPRESSES INTENTION TO STRENGTHEN MISSION MANDATE, STRUCTURE, RESOURCES

4 August 2000
SC/6906

COUNCIL, EXTENDING UNAMSIL MANDATE UNTIL 8 SEPTEMBER, EXPRESSES INTENTION TO STRENGTHEN MISSION MANDATE, STRUCTURE, RESOURCES

4 August 2000

Press ReleaseSC/6906

COUNCIL, EXTENDING UNAMSIL MANDATE UNTIL 8 SEPTEMBER, EXPRESSES INTENTION TO STRENGTHEN MISSION MANDATE, STRUCTURE, RESOURCES

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Robust Response to Threat or Use of Force among Priority Tasks Assigned to Mission

The Security Council this afternoon expressed its intention to strengthen the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) to enable the peacekeepers to respond more decisively and robustly to attacks by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

Unanimously adopting resolution 1313 (2000), whereby it extended UNAMSIL’s mandate until 8 September, the Council asked the Secretary-General to report to it as soon as possible with recommendations for restructuring and strengthening the Mission. The Council expressed its intention to take a decision on those recommendations expeditiously.

By other terms of the resolution, the Council also expressed its intention to assign the following priority tasks to UNAMSIL:

-- to maintain the security of the Lungi and Freetown peninsulas and their major approach routes;

-- to deter and, where necessary, decisively counter the threat of RUF attack by responding robustly to any hostile actions or threat of imminent and direct use of force;

-- to deploy progressively and in sufficient numbers at key strategic locations and main population centres, assist the Government of Sierra Leone in its efforts to extend State authority, restore law and order and further stabilize the situation progressively throughout the entire country, and to protect civilians under threat of imminent physical violence;

-- to patrol actively main access routes to the capital, Freetown, to ensure freedom of movement and facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance;

-- to assist in the promotion of the political process leading, inter alia, to a renewed disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme where possible.

Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6906 4184th Meeting (PM) 4 August 2000

To enable UNAMSIL to carry out its new priority tasks, the Security Council said its military component should be reinforced through accelerated troop rotations and with further aviation and maritime assets, a strengthened force reserve, upgraded communications and specialist combat and logistic support assets.

The Council stressed that the successful achievement of the objectives of the Mission, including the new priority tasks set out for it, would depend on the provision to UNAMSIL of fully equipped complete units, with the required capabilities, effective command and control structure and capacity, a single chain of command, adequate resources and the commitment to implement the Mission's mandate in full as authorized by the Council. The resolution said that RUF attacks against UNAMSIL since May have revealed “serious inherent weaknesses in the Mission’s structure, command and control and resources.”

[In a report to the Council last May (S/2000/455), the Secretary-General had recommended the enlargement of the military component of UNAMSIL beyond the level of 13,000 authorized by the Security Council on 19 May.]

The President of the Security Council, Hasmy Agam (Malaysia), on behalf of the Council, expressed profound condolences to the bereaved families and Governments and people of Ghana, Nigeria, India and Jordan on the deaths of 11 peacekeepers from those countries, who gave their lives while serving with UNAMSIL. The international community was deeply saddened by that great loss, he said.

The President also paid tribute to Ambassador Robert Fowler, Permanent Representative of Canada, for the remarkable contribution he had made to the work of the Council and its subsidiary organs. Mr. Fowler, who was also Chairman of the Council’s Sanctions Committee on Angola, is taking up a new appointment as his country’s Ambassador to Italy.

The meeting began at 12:48 p.m. and was adjourned at 12:58 p.m.

Text of Resolution

The full text of resolution 1313 (2000) reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling all its previous resolutions and the statements of its President concerning the situation in Sierra Leone,

“Condemning in the strongest terms the armed attacks against and detention of the personnel of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), and commending UNAMSIL and the Force Commander for the recent resolute action taken in response to the continuing threat towards the mission from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and other armed elements in Sierra Leone,

“Having considered the reports of the Secretary-General of 19 May 2000 (S/2000/455) and 31 July 2000 (S/2000/751),

“1. Decides to extend the mandate of UNAMSIL until 8 September 2000;

“2. Considers that the widespread and serious violations of the Lomé Peace Agreement (S/1999/777) by the RUF since early May 2000 constitute a breakdown of the prior generally permissive environment based on the Agreement and predicated on the cooperation of the parties, that until security conditions have been established allowing progress towards the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Sierra Leone there will continue to be a threat to UNAMSIL and the security of the state of Sierra Leone, and that in order to counter that threat, the structure, capability, resources and mandate of UNAMSIL require appropriate strengthening;

“3. Expresses its intention, in this context, taking into account the views of the Government of Sierra Leone, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the troop-contributing countries to strengthen the mandate of UNAMSIL as established in its resolutions 1270 (1999) of 22 October 1999 and 1289 (2000) of 7 February 2000 with the following priority tasks:

“(a) To maintain the security of the Lungi and Freetown peninsulas, and their major approach routes;

“(b) To deter and, where necessary, decisively counter the threat of RUF attack by responding robustly to any hostile actions or threat of imminent and direct use of force;

“(c) To deploy progressively in a coherent operational structure and in sufficient numbers and density at key strategic locations and main population centres and, in coordination with the Government of Sierra Leone to assist, through its presence and within the framework of its mandate, the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone to extend state authority, restore law and order and further stabilize the situation progressively throughout the entire country, and, within its capabilities and areas of deployment, to afford protection to civilians under threat of imminent physical violence;

“(d) To patrol actively on strategic lines of communication, specifically main access routes to the capital in order to dominate ground, ensure freedom of movement and facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance;

“(e) To assist in the promotion of the political process leading, inter alia, to a renewed disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme where possible;

“4. Considers that, in order to allow the restructuring of the force and provide the additional capability required for the achievement of the priority tasks set out in paragraph 3 above, the military component of UNAMSIL should be reinforced through accelerated troop rotations, as appropriate, and with, inter alia, further aviation and maritime assets, a strengthened force reserve, upgraded communications and specialist combat and logistic support assets;

“5. Recognizes that the RUF offensive against UNAMSIL since May 2000 revealed serious inherent weaknesses in the mission's structure, command and control and resources, as referred to in paragraph 54 of the report of the Secretary-General of 31 July 2000, reflecting findings of the United Nations Assessment Mission which visited Sierra Leone from 31 May to 8 June 2000, welcomes the recommendations made and action already taken to address these deficiencies, and requests the Secretary-General to take further urgent steps to implement these recommendations to improve the performance and capacity of the mission;

“6. Stresses that the successful achievement of the objectives of the mission, including the priority tasks set out in paragraph 3 above, will depend on the provision to UNAMSIL of fully equipped, complete units, with the required capabilities, effective command and control structure and capacity, a single chain of command, adequate resources and the commitment to implement the mandate of the mission in full as authorized by the Security Council;

“7. Requests the Secretary-General, after further consultations with troop-contributing countries, to provide a further report to the Council as soon as possible on the proposals in paragraphs 2 to 6 above with recommendations for the restructuring and strengthening of UNAMSIL, and expresses its intention to take a decision on those recommendations expeditiously;

“8. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in Sierra Leone. It had before it the fifth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) (document S/2000/751).

Report of Secretary-General

According to the Secretary-General, the situation in Sierra Leone during the reporting period was tense and volatile, under conditions that resembled civil war. The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) continued to attack United Nations peacekeepers and pro-Government forces and, until recently, to detain and surround United Nations personnel. The programme for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration came to a standstill as various pro-Government groups re-armed and formed an alliance to fight the RUF.

Addressing civil affairs, the Secretary-General states that due to the resumption of hostilities early in May, no further progress has been made in the Government's efforts to restore civil authority throughout the country. Civil authorities in the Government-controlled Southern Province and in parts of the Eastern Province continued to operate without disruption, but under serious resource constraints. UNAMSIL redeployed a civil affairs coordinator to Kenema on 24 May and intends to redeploy one to Bo soon. In the Western Area, civil affairs coordinators have continued to work in both urban and rural districts.

The Secretary-General goes on to say that in a letter dated 12 June, President Kabbah requested the United Nations to help establish a special court to try Foday Sankoh and other senior members of RUF for crimes against Sierra Leoneans and for taking the Organization's peacekeepers as hostages. The subject- matter jurisdiction of the court should include international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, consistent with the reservation entered by the United Nations at the signature of the Lomé Agreement. At the same time, crimes under national law would not be excluded.

Turning to regional efforts, the report states that members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have been actively seeking a solution to the crisis. The ECOWAS Committee of Six on Sierra Leone, whose task was to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, visited Sierra Leone from 13 to 20 June, and paid a one-day visit to Liberia to meet with the President, Charles Taylor, on 19 June. Regrettably, the Committee was unable to secure any firm commitments. The ongoing hostilities have aggravated tensions between Sierra Leone and Liberia, which could undermine the efforts of the Mano River Union to build confidence between Sierra Leone and its neighbours. The Liberian Government has made allegations about Sierra Leone's support for Liberian dissidents and accused Guinea of providing support for the recent incursion by dissidents into northern Liberia.

Addressing the security situation, the Secretary-General says that during the review period, the general security situation was volatile and unpredictable due to continuing RUF attacks on UNAMSIL and on an alliance of pro-Government forces. This alliance consists of the Sierra Leone Army, the Civil Defence Force and some of the forces loyal to the former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council. The Freetown and Lungi peninsulas remained relatively stable due to the deployment of UNAMSIL, pro-Government forces, and the troops deployed by the United Kingdom at Lungi. The RUF attacks on UNAMSIL and on the pro-Government forces have been carried out mostly in the Northern Province since its advance on Freetown was halted in May.

The report goes on to say that since intensive diplomatic and political efforts to seek a solution by peaceful means were unsuccessful, UNAMSIL decided to launch a robust military operation to ensure the security of United Nations personnel and to restore their freedom of movement. The operation was carefully planned in advance by the Force Commander of UNAMSIL, Major General Vijay Kumar Jetley, and the UNAMSIL military staff, in close consultation with his Special Representative. The operation itself was conducted by elements from four contingents. The majority of troops engaged in the operation were from the Indian contingent, while vital support was provided by units from Ghana and Nigeria. The United Kingdom provided important logistical support.

Providing an update on the deployment of the Mission, the Secretary-General states that since his last report, new troops from Bangladesh, India and Jordan have arrived in the Mission area, bringing the troop strength of UNAMSIL as of 22 July to 12,248. With the expected arrival of a Russian military aviation unit, the military strength of UNAMSIL would approach the ceiling set under Security Council resolution 1299 (2000).

According to the Secretary-General the disarmament and demobilization process remained at a standstill. There is general consensus among the Government and its international partners, including the United Nations, that the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme will require a comprehensive review.

The report states that persistent fighting in many areas of the country continued to have a direct effect on the civilian population and resulted in human rights violations by all fighting groups. Based on testimonies from newly arrived internally displaced persons at Mile 91 and in Port Loko, UNAMSIL has documented several cases of summary executions and some new amputations and mutilations of civilians by the RUF. Eyewitnesses also report that there have been civilian casualties in attacks by the Government-operated helicopter gunship.

On the issue of child protection, the Secretary-General states that the RUF and pro-Government forces continue to use children as combat soldiers. The RUF has engaged in fresh recruitment of children. At Makeni, both children and adults were put under pressure by RUF fighters to join them. RUF troops are reported to have killed two boys and a young man on 31 May at Maforay village near Port Loko, after they refused to join their fighting forces. Government-allied forces are also reported to be using child soldiers in combat. On 12 June, in a demobilization of alleged child soldiers in Government-allied forces at Masiaka, only 13 children out of 135 handed over were serving as combatants (nine were with the Civil Defence Force and four with Armed Forces Revolutionary Council). The Secretary-General urges all fighting forces to immediately release all child combatants among their forces and to cease the recruitment of children as combatants.

Addressing humanitarian aspects of the situation, the Secretary-General says that following the resumption of hostilities in Sierra Leone, more than 150,000 new internally displaced persons have been registered by aid agencies, bringing the total number to about 310,000. An additional 100,000 new internally displaced persons are estimated to be residing within host communities, while more than 1.5 million war-affected individuals, 1 million of whom are in inaccessible areas under RUF control, are also in need of assistance. Some 5,000 Sierra Leoneans were reported to have fled into Guinea, joining about 450,000 Sierra Leonean refugees already in that country.

The Secretary-General states that given the deteriorating humanitarian situation, resources are needed to provide immediate life-saving support first to some 200,000 of the most vulnerable Sierra Leoneans displaced by the current crisis. Serious shortfalls in shelter materials, in particular in plastic sheeting and non-food items, remain a critical concern as the rainy season advances.

The report then goes on to review efforts to enhance the effectiveness of the Mission. The Secretary-General states that following the events that occurred early in May, he sent a high-level multi-disciplinary assessment team to Sierra Leone to review the operations of UNAMSIL and to report on measures that could be taken to make the operation more effective. The team found a serious lack of cohesion within the Mission as well as a number of other shortcomings. In particular, the team found that there was no commonly shared understanding of the mandate and rules of engagement, as well as other problems in command and control. An important cause of those shortcomings was the fast growth of the Mission, from a small team of military observers to a large multi-disciplinary peacekeeping operation with complex organizational and logistical requirements.

The report goes on to say that additional contingent equipment, including vehicles, has arrived in Freetown in recent weeks. Those contingents, which had lost equipment in confrontations with the RUF, have now replaced all but their heavy equipment. Those efforts, however, need to be supplemented by outside assistance. The Secretary-General therefore calls upon all Member States to help all contributors to meet United Nations standards of equipment. The Secretariat also continued to seek contributions by Member States of specialized military units, such as logistical and signal units. However, until very recently, no Member States had come forward to make such units available.

The Secretary-General notes that despite some improvements, the situation in Sierra Leone has remained dangerous and volatile. UNAMSIL, after the setbacks

suffered early in May, has demonstrated its capacity assertively, especially since the successful operation conducted recently to rescue the military observers and troops surrounded by the RUF at Kailahun. The threat posed by the RUF remains a matter of grave concern. So far, it has shown no credible sign that it would be ready to resume the peace process and it has continued to attack UNAMSIL and pro- Government forces. The preferred collective approach should be to concentrate efforts for a political solution based on a robust and credible international military presence. It is evident , says the Secretary-General, that the Mission's presence remains indispensable for that purpose, and he therefore recommends that the mandate of UNAMSIL, which expires on 7 August, be extended for another six months.

The Secretary-General states that in his previous report (S/2000/455), he had made initial recommendations on the expansion of UNAMSIL. However, he is reviewing the requirements of the Mission in the light of changing conditions on the ground and the possible adjustments in its mandate, which the Security Council has been considering. He is convinced that it will be necessary to further strengthen UNAMSIL to enable it to fulfil new tasks in Sierra Leone. He therefore intends to submit proposals to the Security Council in the near future, after a thorough assessment of the political and military situation in the country.

The report goes on to state that as efforts focus on promoting the peace process in Sierra Leone, there is a need to remain mindful of the tensions which continue to mount along the borders of the three Mano River Union countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. If unchecked, those tensions could contribute to the further destabilization of Liberia and result in instability in Guinea, which remains host to over 500,000 refugees from neighbouring countries.

Furthermore, the civilian population continues to suffer as a result of the ongoing fighting in many parts of the country. The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about reports of continuing abductions, rape and sexual abuse, destruction and looting of civilian property, and forced recruitment of children. He is also concerned that the current hostilities have had a dramatic impact on food security and caused dozens of civilian casualties, as well as the displacement of tens of thousands of civilians, increasing their vulnerability to malnutrition, disease and other hardships.

The Secretary-General welcomes the adoption on 5 July by the Security Council of resolution 1306 (2000), prohibiting the worldwide importation of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone, except those with a certificate of origin issued by the Government of Sierra Leone, and strengthening the implementation of the embargo against the supply of arms and related matériel to non-government forces. He expects to announce shortly the appointment of members of the five-person panel established under resolution 1306 (2000) which will collect information on possible violations of the arms embargo and the link between the trade in diamonds and arms.

The Secretary-General says that it is with deep regret that he reports to the Council that nine peacekeepers, seven from Nigeria, one from India and one from Jordan, have been killed during the present crisis. He offers his condolences to the families and Governments of those peacekeepers, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace. In addition, eight soldiers are still missing.

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For information media. Not an official record.