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The BBC's Kate Adie
"The war still goes on"
 real 28k

Commander of British Forces Brigadier David Richards
"You must not compare the future armies of Sierra Leone with the sort of armies we traditionally picture"
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David Wimshurst, UN spokesman in Sierra Leone
"Our troops, I can assure you, are fully prepared for all contingencies"
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Thursday, 15 June, 2000, 14:22 GMT 15:22 UK
UK pullout from Freetown
Royal Marines patrol
The Royal Marines' mission has been hailed as a success
The major contingent of the British military task-force sent to help restore order in Sierra Leone has left the country.

The departure of the prestigious Royal Marines was overseen by UK Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who said his government was proud of what they had done to restore stability.

Britain, the former colonial power in Sierra Leone, is handing responsibility for security to the United Nations.

About 300 UK troops and support staff will stay on in the war-torn African country for the next six to eight weeks to help establish a UK military advisory training team.

The UN have a much stronger resolve now

Brigadier David Richards
Most people in Freetown would prefer to see the British military continuing their confidence-building street patrols, but UK ministers always insisted their mission to help the UN forces there was a short-term one.

Thursday's withdrawal by helicopter and landing boat to the Royal Navy's HMS Ocean also leaves Lungi Airport under the control of the UNs' Unamsil troops.

'Verge of collapse'

Brigadier David Richards, commander of the British forces in Sierra Leone, told BBC Radio's Today programme: "The UN have a much stronger resolve now and are clearer about their mandate and have shown that they have the resolve to fight.

"When we arrived here about six weks ago, they did appear on the verge of collapse. Today they have been transformed."

At the core of the continuing British effort will be the retraining by soldiers from the 2nd Anglian Regiment of the demoralised Sierra Leone army.

That army consists of an uneasy coalition of several private armies and guerrilla groups, some of which had previously been fighting each other in the country's decade-long civil war.

Poorly trained

Many are poorly trained and equipped and their ranks have featured child soldiers.

An estimated 1,000 men are expected undergo a six-week retraining programme in which the emphasis will be on discipline.

Sierra Leone continues to face horrendous problems. A war is being fought in the countryside about which there is little reliable information.

The UN says that one million people have been affected.

The rebels hold the main diamond-producing area, which deprives the government of revenue and, it is alleged, attracts support for the rebels from neighbouring Liberia.

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14 Jun 00 | Africa
Africa in the dock
13 Jun 00 | Africa
EU suspends Liberia aid
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