Sierra Leone Rebels Continue to Disarm

June 13, 2001

Sierra Leone Rebels Continue to Disarm

More than 1,500 members of the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone began disarming Tuesday in Lunsar, about 90 kilometers from the capital Freetown, the United Nations News Center reports. Talks between the government and RUF leaders have progressed, and more RUF fighters are expected to begin disarming today in Masiaka. In addition, RUF released 400 children, many of them child soldiers, on June 4 in Kailahun. The children were transferred to the care of non-governmental organizations that help rehabilitate them and reunite them with their families.

In Liberia, President Charles Taylor has asked the U.N. Security Council to temporarily lift an arms embargo so it can defend itself against attacks by groups from Sierra Leone and Guinea, the Associated Press reports. Taylor accused the governments of the two countries of violating a regional non-aggression pact by continuing to support Liberian dissidents. Fighting along the borders of the three counties has intensified since April. Taylor also complained that the Liberian government is losing income due to the U.N. ban on Liberian diamond exports. He says half of the Liberian population is affected by the ban, Reuters reports.

In other news, the government of Angola continues to talk to De Beers in an attempt to persuade it to resume operations in Angola, the Associated Press reports. De Beers announced May 24 it suspended operations in the country because its legal rights there were unclear. The Angolan government is hopeful De Beers will return and says the company had not pursued all means to resolve the disagreement. Also in Angola, the rebel group UNITA has increased kidnappings and murders in the country. The group has moved away from classic guerrilla tactics toward terrorist warfare, the Angola Peace Monitor reports.

- by Julia M. Duncan