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The BBC's Mark Doyle
"Corruption is at the root of many of these problems"
 real 28k

Peter Muller, Germany
"More should be done"
 real 28k

Patrick Coroma, Sierra Leone
"The solution lies only with the Sierra Leoneans"
 real 28k

Yembeh Asko Koroma, US
"Why is the western world overlooking this situation?"
 real 28k

Ester Pander
"I wouldn't put the blame entirely on the UN"
 real 28k

Samuel Beckley
"Freetown is very safe today"
 real 28k

Momodu Elongima
"The West betrayed the people of Sierra Leone"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 16 May, 2000, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Sierra Leone: What's gone wrong?

Who is to blame for the breakdown of the peace process? Was it doomed to failure from the outset?

News and Information for Africa

Is the Sierra Leonean government at fault for signing a peace accord many felt would never stick? Or is this simply the latest example of the UN's inability to oversee peace in Africa?

Mark Doyle, the BBC's West Africa correspondent answered your questions LIVE from Freetown. Click here to read his answers to your questions on our Forum page.

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air

  • Your comments since the programme
  • Your comments during the programme
  • Your comments before we went ON AIR


    Your comments since the programme



    Do you think other African leaders should be involved in the peace process in Sierra Leone?

    Taiwo Jolayemi, South Africa
    I am a Kenyan living in the USA. Like many other Africans in exile, we tend to sit back and call ourselves lucky to have escaped from Africa and hardly ever care other than occasionally sending a few dollars to our relatives.
    Jimmy, USA

    Do you think other African leaders should be involved in the peace process in Sierra Leone?
    Taiwo Jolayemi, South Africa

    It is unfair that western countries be relied upon so much for aid and help and then get the blame for doing everything wrong, especially in the African countries. The desire for these countries to become productive members of the world community has to come from them, not us.
    Wayne Rishi, Trinidad

    This is a tragedy, but for me what is most tragic is that it seems to presage similar disasters. Sub-Saharan Africa is becoming entrenched in a state of complete state and authority breakdown. Unless something remarkable happens, look for this century to mark the terminal degradation of civilisation in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    Josh Paul, UK

    What is wrong is that the international community appears to be more willing to rush arms and soldiers into Sierra Leone when there is violence going on than to rush aid to improve the peoples' lives when there is no violence going on.
    Mobolaji Aluko, USA (Via Nigeria)

    I think the west is not being fair by only appreciating Africa when it comes to obtaining nourishment (diamonds, slaves, mineral resources). For starters Africa is bogged down by debt from which the few countries that are able to repay only manage to settle the interest, leaving the principal. The situation in Sierra Leone can not be left to Africans alone because it has been collectively caused by the whole world.
    Lazarous Kamanga, Zambia



    Let Africa decide its fate, sooner or later they are bound to realise that violence is not the best way to solve problems

    Dave Jones, UK
    Africa seems to be a trouble hotspot in the world. Efforts had been made to try and sort problems out but they still end up killing each other. This proves that the continent is beyond help. Let Africa decide its fate, sooner or later they are bound to realise that violence is not the best way to solve problems
    Dave Jones, UK

    To BBC News I want to thank the people of England for having the guts and foresight, to do what is necessary in a situation which was increasingly getting out of control. By sending in the ground forces you have showed the rebels up for what they truly are and that is nothing more then bullies. I am truly surprise that we here in the United States with the greatest military in the world continue to run and hide when we should be taking a stance. Just as we would if it were Europe. Thank you and good luck.
    Leonard Vaughan, USA

    I am a Sierra Leonean living in exile in the US. To be quite frank, I am very disappointed in the way that the US has taken a back seat in the face of such major human rights abuse. I am glad that they continue to expose themselves through their lack of interest in African affairs.
    Chinya Harleston, Sierra Leonean in USA

    Africa has slowly but surely turned into a real joke. As an African this hurts. What we have always lacked is leadership. It's about time the people rose for what is right. Even if it costs many lives, it shouldn't matter. Sierra Leone is just one of many conflicts, and it's time to draw the line and say enough is enough.
    Chikere Ezeh, UK



    This country got its independence 40 years ago so it can sort its own problems.

    Steve Foley, England
    What the hell are we doing there? This country got its independence 40 years ago so it can sort its own problems. We cannot even get it right in Ulster, part of Great Britain and on our doorstep! If we can intervene in the affairs of THIS former colony, let us enter Rhodesia with armed force, eliminate the dictator Mugabe by whatever means necessary and impose a democratic moderate government on THAT former colony!
    Steve Foley, England

    Britain, you are our colonial masters, please help us. Keep your troops in Sierra Leone. Please help us to develop our country once and for all. The Lord will bless you.
    Sanusi Thomas, USA

    The sad fact is that the US is now an accomplice in Sierra Leone's suffering. As a US citizen it disgusts me that the current Clinton administration would force the democratically elected government of Sierra Leone to accept a peace agreement that gave Foday Sankoh a role in the government and gave amnesty to the RUF butchers. Now, they want to send Jesse Jackson to Sierra Leone to try and make "peace" again. This is the same Jesse Jackson that compared Foday Sankoh and the RUF to Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress.
    C. Hudgins, USA

    Congratulations to all of you who sacrifice your lives for the betterment of the world. This goes to British, Nigerian, Kenyan, Zambian, Indian, Jordanian and all you gallant men and women out there. A lot has been said about the situation in Sierra Leone, some comments are just outright anti-African and racist but you can see them and ignore them. Even one month's presence is very highly appreciated.
    Kwenga Sichilongo, USA

    As a Sierra Leonean, I am thankful for the amount of support and interest that people of other nationalities have shown in this crisis. But it is time that Sierra Leoneans learn from others and work together to solve this OUR problem. First, we need to develop a leader for the people of Sierra Leone, not for just one ethnic group or region. Second, we must call for an enquiry into the sale of diamonds for weapons. Third, we need to demand a war crimes tribunal. Lastly, we need to start rebuilding OUR nation.The time for tribalism and separation is long gone. People of Sierra Leone, this is the time to come together. Nah wi tem dis!
    D Williams, Sierra Leone



    The death of Foday would not be an invitation to peace

    Hamilton Arrey Ayuk, US
    The death of Foday would not be an invitation to peace. The proliferation of factions and the ready assistance from other terrorist and revolutionary African leaders ties the hands and legs of peace.
    Hamilton Arrey Ayuk, US

    While expressing his sympathy for the people of Sierra Leone, Chris from India suggested that the international community should not come to the help of Sierra Leone, and Africa in general. The basis of his suggestion was that Africa is not interested in solving its problems; therefore these African conflicts are a waste of international resources. I am wondering if his remark is because of the fact that these African conflicts pose no direct threat to India and the rest of the community outside Africa. It seems clear to me if anyone other than Africans were dying in these so-called African conflicts, the international community would have been more involved.
    Abdul Sankoh, USA

    I felt quite insulted by the assertion by one caller that the war in Sierra Leone is the result of the tendency of Africans to spend money on wars rather than on development. The war in Sierra Leone is simply aggression by a few against the peace-loving majority.
    A Tejan-Cole, USA

    The first mistake with regards to the current turmoil was because of the withdrawal of Nigerian ECOMOG forces.
    Mori Kebba Jammeh (Gambian) USA

    The UN must shoulder the blame for the instability which was created by the RUF and which that rogue organisation has sought to exploit. However what we now need, is for Tony Blair to take the leadership on this issue, by sending more British Troops. World Opinion has been to coax and cajole the RUF killers, rapists and murderers which has not worked. What the RUF knows very well is that it cannot stand up against a well armed and organised effective force. The organisation is in tatters, most of their leaders having enjoyed the sweets of office and power will not be able to adjust to life in the bush anymore.
    Alan Luke, Britain

    Your comments during the programme

    We've talked a lot about the failure of the international community but we have to talk also about the failure of the political class here in Sierra Leone, and the inability to deal with the corruption which is at the root of many of these problems.
    The BBC's Mark Doyle in Freetown

    Sierra Leone is not an isolated case. Look at Ethiopia, the Congo, Angola and soon Zimbabwe. Tribalism, tyranny, non respect for democracy.
    Joe Ryan, Paris



    It is inappropriate to suggest that Africans should be left to perish

    Michael, Japan
    The problem in Africa is greed, selfishness manipulated by a few people to the disadvantage of the masses. So that even though the world is getting numb over Africa's problems it is inappropriate to suggest that Africans should be left to perish. A combination of force, negotiation and an honest effort by everyone especially the African leaders involved to make peace.
    Michael, Japan



    Africa should find solutions to their problems and stop relying on the rest of the world

    Wills Mkusa, Australia
    Africa should find solutions to their problems and stop relying on the rest of the world.
    Wills Mkusa, Australia.

    The fault is clearly Foday Sankoh's. His action and those of his gang typifies the innate Sierra Leonean selfish trait. Sierra Leone is too rich a Country to be scrapping around for outside help as it is currently doing. Sierra Leone deserves better.
    Prince Swaray

    To those criticising the UN and British actions in Sierra Leone, may I say "If you look a gift horse in the mouth don't criticise any sign of bad breath".
    The Hall Family

    I am a medical doctor working in public health in Cambodia and think it's unfair to say that the UN peacekeeping missions in Africa have been a failure. The fact is that the African environment is probably much tougher than elsewhere. The UNTAC mission from 91 to 93 in Cambodia was hailed a success and did manage to get general elections organised. However, they completely failed to disarm the Khmer Rouge, another of their mandates. How can one possibly imagine that a UN peacekeeper from the other side of the world would risk his life in Sierra Leone for a cause he does not understand and couldn't care less? This question points to the intrinsic weakness of the UN system. Unfortunately, there is no better alternative up to now. Could a possible solution be a permanent contingent of well-trained mercenaries under the UN flag?
    François Crabbé Phnom Penh



    UN is spineless when it comes to Africa

    Udo Owo Ima, Nigeria
    European nations that colonised Africa gladly invested a lot to colonise and plunder Africa and left behind most of the problems we now encounter on the continent. Why is it that each time there is a problem in Africa they develop cold feet? UN is spineless when it comes to Africa. Is it not time that the UN takes Africa seriously? The world must use Sierra Leone to strike fear of and respect for law and order into Africans or Africa will remain the sick man of the international community under the grip of the Sankos and
    Udo Owo Ima, Nigeria

    Is is high time that the world woke up to the fact that the kind of tragedy unfolding in Sierra Leone is no different from a householder living down the road from you setting about maiming and killing the members of his household. Would we tolerate that on our street? Would it matter whether the household was white or black? We are told we live in global village: it's time we started facing up to the responsibilities involved.
    Alan Waters, UK

    n the recent past I helped to start a peace process involving a rebel army in East Africa and its government. After managing to start the discussion going between the two parties, the rebel leadership broke off contact abruptly. When the reason behind this was investigated, it was found that the rebels were afraid to resume a normal disciplined life like any other citizens. They are used to have the power of life and death not only over the civilians whom they abduct, but also over their own members. So, this might be the reason why the RUF rebels prefer to continue with their rebellion. The only alternative left in the East Africa case is to militarily eliminate the rebellion. The RUF should be militarily defeated and the international community should assist the government in Sierra Leone the means to do this. The infrastructures are already there, let the soldiers get on with the job.
    Dr Onek



    You cannot expect reconciliation and compromise based on trust to endure when there are no systems of governance in place

    Dan Owen, Mongolia
    Has this not taught us that you cannot expect reconciliation and compromise based on trust to endure when there are no systems of governance in place? This seemed to be obvious from the start.
    Dan Owen, Mongolia

    It should be crystal clear by now that the root causes of the situation in Sierra Leone are unequal distribution of wealth, a world economic order that perpetuates this, and institutional racism within the international community. Foday Sankoh has his personal ambitions but he would not have gained much support had there been an equitable distribution of wealth and the construction of structures that are home-grown rather than imposed by colonialism.
    Ayo Johnson, Sierra Leoneon in Bermuda

    What disturbs me lately is the claim by BBC reporters that the British soldiers have taken command and turned everything around. The Nigerians have been doing this job throughout the country for years and they have just left and then came the trouble. I never hear Nigeria boast or relish in such cheap gratification.
    Alan IK, Canada

    Diamonds are too often seen as the root cause of the problems, but the most important problem is basic greed and selfishness and a background of gross corruption. From the leadership downwards, the Sierra Leonean is mainly concerned with himself and the small circle of family or friends around him. Even after the recent experiences of coups and return to power, the main interest was in retaining power or positioning for power against the next election. We need a leader for Sierra Leone rather than just for the Party or Tribe or Area.
    Dr D J O Robbin-Coker, Sierra Leonean in The Gambia

    Your comments before the programme

    I think the british government should be honest about the real reasons our boys are there. I'm sure most of the public would back intervention for humanitarian reasons, but they should trust us.
    Chris Roberts, Wales

    The people who complain about the UN not doing anything are misguided. The UN are peaceKEEPERS not peaceENFORCERS. They are also putting their lives on the line. Probably for a problem they know little about. How any Americans can criticise the UN's actions is beyond me, as they don't seem to be around to wear the Blue Beret, yet again. Perhaps they will turn up to take the glory when the bullets stop flying, as they did in Bosnia and Kosovo.
    Steve Johnson, UK



    The UN should have learnt by now that the only language the warlords understand is superior firepower

    Name Here
    You rarely mention the UN's failure in Somalia but I believe a comparison should be made between Somalia and Sierra Leone. In Somalia, an elusive warlord and his poorly equipped militia in flipflops kept the UN and US military in their toes for months. I am not surprised that this ragtag militia kidnapped UN soldiers in their shiny armoured personnel carriers and gun-mounted half-trucks without firing a single shot to defend themselves. Obviously the UN did not learn its lesson in Somalia. They should have learnt by now that the only language the warlords understand is superior firepower. I hope the British soldiers would make differences, unlike the Americans in Somalia.
    Afrah,Toronto, Canada.

    The war in Sierra Leone, my native land, will never end if Charles Taylor of Liberia, Sankoh and others are not charged with human rights abuse. How can the US and the West justify indicting Milosovich of Yugoslavia and not Sankoh and his men? Thanks to the Nigerians who gave their lives to defend the people of Sierra Leone and shame on the west for not supporting them.
    Kenneth Richards, USA

    Fonday Sankoh and his thugs should not have been trusted in the first place. After all the killing and maiming of civilians, the United Nations want these thugs to be rewarded by sharing power. What happened to the injustice that was done to the civilian population in that country. Kofi Annan should be held for responsible for any lost lives in Sierra Leone because of his deal with the Devil.
    Toyin Ogunsuyi, Canada



    The West should help Africa but African leaders need to wakeup and stop the brutality against their people.

    Mori Kebba Jammeh, USA
    I think the Sierra Leone people have suffered a lot in the hand of Sankoh. I think it is time that the British, who colonised Sierra Leone, to come to the aid of the people of the country.
    Stella, USA

    Let me on behalf of my family and the entire Sierra Leonean community around the world express our uttermost gratitude and support for the British intervention. Not forgetting the UN troops who were already there. I'm personally hoping and praying that the international community will not only help with the wars but will put in place an accountable framework together with the necessary infrastructues for a smooth running society. I am living here in London in a safe environment but my whole spirit is wounded because of all the pictures I keep seeing of that once beautiful country of ours.
    Nat Davies, UK

    The world is a global community.I wish people that comment on any situation remembers they are dealing with human beings. The situation in Sierra Leone highlights just that.
    Derek Eagles, United Kingdom



    These people should be handled with an iron fist

    Mervyn Macauley, Denmark
    These people should be handled with an iron fist. The only language these rebels know is force. As someone who formerly worked on the ECOMOG/PAE operation, my advice to the UN personnel is that the RUF is not reliable - they are not thekind of people that you can sit down and compromise with. The only language they understand is force.
    Mervyn Macauley, Denmark

    Once again, UK forces are intervening to protect not only British citizens but also many other European ones. Once again, wealthy European nations will not lift a finger to help and leave it all to the Brits and Americans. This does not bode well for any future European Army, nor for European Unity !!!!
    Mark, Czech Republic



    All of Africa's problems are directly attributable to European interference

    Paul Siemering, US
    I do not understand how anyone can say "let Africa solve it's own problems". All of Africa's problems are directly attributable to European interference. So the solutions must be with European help. It has been a long sorry history - slavery, colonialism, economic. And you want Africa to solve "it's own" problems? Ok sure, fine, why not? Just try to find one problem, just one, that Africa can claim as absolutely, totally it's own, one that had nothing to do with Europe's endless meddling, and hell, yes, we'll take care of it.
    Paul Siemering, US

    Let us spare a thought for the hundreds of mainly African UN troops that are currently detained in Sierra Leone. The UN and international community is showing a high level of interest in the problems in Sierra Leone and ought to be commended.
    Howard, Jamaica

    Such a crisis would never occur in Europe due to the military power and control which each government now possesses. Surely the African Nations should follow suit and create a League of African States which could be backed by such a vast force seen in organisations such as NATO.
    Andrew Simpson, Britain



    Why does the UN insist on wasting resources on solving war situations in Africa?

    Kofi Atiemo, UK
    I have absolutely no idea as to why the united nations insists on wasting resources on solving war situations in Africa. From the Occurences over the past few years in Somalia and Rwanda, it is quite obvious that the approach should change. The rebels have clearly shown they have no respect for the Geneva convention and UN peacekeepers and as such the only kind of peace keeping which will work is that similar to what ECOMOG was doing. A rapid reaction force should be set up and the rebels made to understand clearly that any aggression on their part will be met with superior fire power.
    Kofi Atiemo, UK

    I am just about Africa'd out i.e. African fatigue. Who's fault is this? It is the fault of the people doing the killing, not the UN or the US or Britain. Africa must be left alone to solve its own problems or it will never, ever learn how to solve crisis.
    Richard, USA



    The UN and Kofi Annans of this world are one useless quantity to Africa - only in Europe can the UN actually act

    Henry Ochieng, Uganda
    Sierra Leone was bound to happen. It was only a matter of time before this thing blew up. This rubbish about mandates to only keep the peace without getting involved in actual fighting was always a big sham. Look at what happened to Rwanda. The UN and Kofi Annans of this world are one useless quantity to Africa. Only in Europe can the UN actually act.
    The bitter truth we Africans must accept is that much as we always cause our own problems, the UN and so-called international community never really care for black suffering. In African refugee camps these international "humanitarian bodies" offer the bare minimum. We all saw how differently the refugees in Kosovo were treated. It's an unfair world being run by a bunch of white racists. Don't bother the UN and that clumsy puppet Anan.
    Henry Ochieng, Uganda

    Where are the rebels getting their weapons? Their weapons are made in their countries? I don't think so. Somebody abroad is selling them to the rebel and helping the atrocities happen, indirectly though. People abroad cannot say they have no responsibility for the crisis arising in Africa.
    Junichi Imai, Japan

    Please the UN, help the people of Sierra Leone by teaching the rebel leader that peace is the only way of life. Arrest him and let him free the captives and later fight those senseless young soldiers of the senseless rebel leader.
    Alphonse Lukwesa, Zambia



    The UN's role should never be expanded to fight for peace when there is none

    Jun Wu, Norway
    In general, the UN's role should never be expanded to fight for peace when there is none. UN should give regional parties, such as Nigeria, financial and logistic assistance to create and enforce peace in Sierra Leone. UN peacekeepers will come in later to help the disarmament and reconstruction process of the western African nation.
    Under current condition, however, UN troops should not withdraw to give up hope on peace. First, UN should strengthen its position in and around Freetown to enforce a secure zone for the fleeing people, and to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees. Second, UN should make it clear that anyone who is against peace, and commits war crimes, will be tried as criminals. Third, The border of Sierra Leone should be sealed, and all trades stopped to deprive the rebel army of its fighting resources.
    Jun Wu, Norway (China)

    It is very natural that when a person is confused and desperately in search of solution, the tendency to listen to those in power is very high. In a crisis situation, as what we are seeing in Sierra Leone, it is very convincing to align with the affluent. The west influenced the Sierra Leone peace process, they should participate, militarily, in getting Sierra Leone back on track.
    Francisca Gandaa, United States



    Why doesn't the international community boycott the companies who are buying the diamonds?

    Sara Nevil, USA
    If the diamond sales are funding the weapons for the RUF, then why doesn't the international community boycott the companies who are buying the diamonds? To me, that would make more sense than sending in UN troops who lack training and whose weaponry does not match up to that of the RUF.
    If there is no hope of stopping the RUF, in part due to many of the Sierra Leone army themselves being integrated into the RUF, would there be a way to evacuate the common people out of Sierra Leone to safety?
    Sara Nevil, USA

    Nobody should blame the government of Sierra Leone for signing the peace agreement with Sankoh and his rebels. There is a new mood sweeping the International community of nations that all can be forgiven in the interest of peace and to save lives. Practically the same thing is happening in Northern Ireland.
    However peace enforcement in Africa can never be done on the same terms as enforcement in the Western hemisphere. The United nations troops should have been given a more robust terms of engagement. Sierra Leonean rebels are the most brutal barbarians history has shown in recent times. I believe that Ecomog soldiers led by Nigeria should be re-deployed immediately to restore peace in that long suffering country.
    Uche Enekwa, UK



    It is not going to change unless the entire world community quits trying to 'rip off' these African countries

    Dave Adams, USA
    The problem with all African countries has been weak "UN" which has been totally incapable of enforcing law and order. There is one other problem too. That is the fact that Western corporations like "Shell" have exploited the hell out of those people. And, it is not going to change unless the entire world community quits trying to "rip off" these African countries.
    Dave Adams, USA

    Now tell me, who buys the diamonds? Who makes the weapons? So do you wonder who kills us...keep wondering.
    Nyamongo Mokaya Bwa Areba, USA

    It's about time the UK stopped sending troops to sort out other peoples problems. As usual we are getting dragged into a problem that has nothing to do with us while the rest of Europe and the USA does not have the bottle or experience to evacuate its own people. I suppose they will turn up and take the glory when the bullets stop flying. As they have done in virtually every other conflict.
    SJ, UK



    Prevent Foday Sankoh's murderous thugs from chopping up women and children

    Markus Gschwari, UK
    I think that it is high on time the government proved that Britain is now indeed committed to an "ethical foreign policy". There can be only one answer for the UK as leader of the Commonwealth and ex-colonial exploiter of the Sierra Leonean people: a full blown intervention to prevent Foday Sankoh's murderous thugs from chopping up women and children.
    I think that Francis Maude's approach goes to show how the Tories are thinking these days: why should British (read: white) blood be spilled to pacify an obscure (read: African) country? Disgusting bigotry.
    Markus Gschwari, UK

    I am glad that Britain has finally decided to "just go ahead" and intervene. I must admit I was surprised at the apparently speedy decision to do so. Now that we have, I believe we can stay and work with the people of Sierra Leone to rid them of the rebels. I honestly believe increasing the ineffective UN peacekeepers with yet more... and a lot more at that... is a fatal mistake.
    Mark Hunter, England



    Why is everyone begging US and Britain to intervene in Sierra Leone?

    Marcus Fronto, USA
    Perhaps it is time for Africa to assert its manhood, and take his rightful place in the community of nations as partners. Why is everyone begging US and Britain to intervene in Sierra Leone? It would surely save lives if they do. There is no indication that they will. Another viable solution comes to mind: why don't we ask every African country that prides itself as a sovereign nation to contribute troops and material to save our suffering fellow Africans from the clutches, butchery, and cannibalism of fellow Africans
    Marcus Fronto, USA

    Is anyone aware of the events in Freetown after its recapture by ECOMOG in 99? Dozens of suspected rebel narks and sympathisers were beaten, raped and eventually killed by people and forces (Including ECOMOG) loyal to and working for the government. These events in Freetown were shown British TV last year. I suggest (just to be on the safe side) from now on when the UN contracts West African armies to restore peace in Sierra Leone it provides a free copy of the Geneva Convention - for beginners.
    Tomak Fry, UK



    Sankoh's brand of democracy is the photograph of the two-year old girl with both hands chopped off

    Rahim Bhourhan, London
    Basically, the blame belongs to Foday Sankoh and his thugs. The beast (Sankoh) talks of peace and democracy-his brand of democracy is the photograph of the two-year old girl with both hands chopped off. I pray that he is caught so that he can suffer the same dehumanising effect that sane peoples of our beloved country have gone through.
    Rahim Bhourhan London

    Sierra Leoneans had hoped UNAMSIL was the best thing to happen to us in our quest for peace. What a disappointment indeed. UNAMSIL had assured us they would protect lives and property in Sierra Leone and that they were capable of keeping the peace; and so, they got ECOMOG to quit. How sad! It has turned out they can't even protect themselves UNAMSIL should either leave or be considerably downsized in order to save the bulk of the hundreds of millions of dollars being wasted on them; just a fraction will be adequate to support ECOMOG operations.
    Fred Konteh, Sierra Leone

    The problem in Sierra Leone is common a problem in Africa. The West should leave Africans to solve their own problems. Africans understand themselves better. Let African Leaders meet and try to solve these problems once and for all.
    Nathan, Kenya

    The problem in Sierra Leone is not only the inability of the UN to control the situation, rather the greed for power and diamond cash of the LEADERS. They all agreed to settle this matter once and for all (for the benefit of the common people). They preached nationalism, equality, and an end to corruption. What have we seen of all that? It is time we Africans take responsibility for ourselves.
    John Marlique, Spain

    I agree with one of the comments made, expressing the essential need for education, to reduce the possibility of children being drawn into such conflicts in the future. However little is being said about ways that the market for diamonds might be influenced. Is anyone aware of work being undertaken to try to reduce sales of illegal Sierra Leonian diamonds (either in Liberia or in international diamond markets such as Antwerp)? Although difficult to achieve in practice, surely more efforts could be made to reduce the flow of illegal diamonds from Sierra Leone, which are fuelling this war.
    Philip Mann, Belgium/UK



    It is an absolute outrage that the United Nations could be treated with such impunity, disrespect and disdain.

    Abdul, USA
    It is an absolute outrage that the United Nations could be treated with such impunity, disrespect and disdain. This is a watershed moment in peace keeping for the UN. If they fail to respond with overwhelming force to crush the rag tag army of the RUF in tiny Sierra Leone then their credibility would be lost forever and Foday Sankoh would be vindicated when he called the UN a paper tiger. If the West would provide air power, weapons, logistics and intelligence for ECOMOG troops willing to fight on the ground and totally destroy and halt the rebel mining operations in the diamond fields. The rebels would be vanquished in rapid fashion.
    Abdul, USA

    I was irked when I watched on TV how the so-called UN peacekeepers in Sierra Leone were being disarmed by the rebels and they seemed like children and defenceless. Their mission there was to devise ways to bring about peace. But how can such naive persons who cannot even defend themselves be labelled peacekeepers? It is high time they evacuated and looked for survival means elsewhere. In my personal opinion, UN peacekeeper presence only agitated the already peaceless state.
    Grace Akello, Uganda



    The only way to save Sierra Leone from itself is to ensure that future generations will be educated enough to control a country with excellent economic potential.

    George Johnson, UK
    If anyone has ever seen what Africans are capable of doing to each other, more people would want a stronger UN presence in Sierra Leone. Not to end a civil war but to protect the country from future civil war by the hands of its children. The children are forced to join in the violence and have violence brought upon them by rebels and soldiers alike. West African forces from other countries are not enough to stop the bloodshed, they are poorly trained and poorly led. The only way to save Sierra Leone from itself is to ensure that future generations will be educated enough to control a country with excellent economic potential.
    George Johnson, UK

    I can't believe that the world does not do more to stop the violence here. I can't believe that a blanket amnesty was given for the terrible human right violations that were done.
    Janaka, Singapore

    Africa goes from one disaster to another. Questions have to be asked how many more decades will the Dark Continent live up to its name? It is time for the west to wash its hands of Africa - one can not make peace where there is none.
    Robert McDonald , New Zealand



    The blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the UN and the West.

    Hamad Lone, Saudi Arabia
    The blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the UN and the West. How an organisation can lose 500 men is beyond me. The UN made an agreement with Sanko giving him extraordinary powers and allowing his band of cut throats a free hand.
    Whilst it is right for the Western powers to ask Africans to police their own problem areas, it has been proved again and again that they do not have the professionalism or the resources. People like Sanko cannot be allowed to run wild and must be held accountable.
    Hamad Lone, Saudi Arabia

    The international community did not force the government to sign the peace accord, It was necessary to sign an accord because of all the atrocities that the so-called RUF has caused in that country. Who do we blame for all these problems is Sierra Leone? Foday Sankoh who thought he was right for waging war on his own people, now he has torn the entire country apart. I hope Foday Sankoh could face trial for crimes committed against humanity.
    Foday Bayon, Sierra Leone

    Why set the limits of the UN's failure to Africa. I don't think they have the ability to keep the peace anywhere.
    Richard T. Ketchum, USA



    The UN have failed us. They need to pack their bags and leave us to solve our problems the best way possible.

    Mamadu Juma Bah, Sierra Leone
    If the UN thinks they can diplomatically hand over the country to Foday Sankoh and think that will solve this problem in Sierra Leone, they are making a big mistake. The UN needs to be aware that the KAMAJORS will not sit by and watch Sankoh turning this country to hell. Also the people of this land are not prepared to risk their lives by depending on the United Nations for security. The UN have failed us. They need to pack their bags and leave us to solve our problems the best way possible.
    Mamadu Juma Bah, Sierra Leone

    Sierra Leone needs all the outside help that it can get. Innocent lives are being taken by the dozens everyday and will not stop until the US and UK sends military intervention.
    Marie Fadika, Sierra Leone



    Here we go again. Britain alternately lambasted for "trying to rule the world" and "turning it's back on it's responsibilities".

    Paul Yardley, England
    Here we go again. Britain alternately lambasted for "trying to rule the world" and "turning it's back on it's responsibilities". I suggest we adopt a new strategy where we take it in turns (including the Netherlands and Germany) to evacuate embassy staff/aid workers. Then when it is safe to return we dispense tea and sympathy to the survivors. Surely then we won't always get this "hidden agenda" rubbish.
    Paul Yardley, England

    My family are from Freetown and I never had the chance to see the country as a youngster, now I am a man and want to go I can't because of the RUF. I think our government was too hasty in turning over their arms. As we can see from the situation, they (RUF) now hold all the Arms, we cannot rely or wait to see what the western world will do, I can tell you, they will do nothing, once all the British are out of the Country.
    Donald Graham, UK

    A representative of the RUF was shown on CNN boasting that when they maim innocent civilians the world takes note. Having lured the US and UN to send the Nigerians, whom they dread home, they are now extending that principle to the UN troops. Even the Rev. Jesse Jackson was among those fooled by the rebels. I repeat, it is only in Africa that warlords aspire to be Presidents instead of facing war crime tribunals. The only way to stop the madness is to resolve to charge Foday Sankor with crimes against humanity - against the month-old kids he has maimed, at least.
    S. S. Adzei, Ghana



    I am kindly pleading to the international community to come to the aid of the people of Sierra Leone, to rescue us from these barbaric, carnivorous beasts.

    Mohamed Tejansie, Gambia
    I am a Sierra Leonean living in the Gambia as a refugee. Foday Sankoh thinks he is so expendable that nothing on this planet can shake him. Who gave him the power to rule the World, because it is not only Sierra Leoneans he is fighting now, he is trying to fight the whole world - because if I am right the UN is made up of all the countries in the World.
    I am kindly pleading to the international community to come to the aid of the people of Sierra Leone, to rescue us from these barbaric, carnivorous beasts. If I can recall the incidents last year 6th January and the following days when these wild beasts stormed the city of Freetown, it was really terrible. The cruelty to mankind was beyond imagining. So to avoid such repetition, I am please calling the international community to rush to our rescue and find a suitable way to deal with these idiots. We are tired.
    Mohamed Tejansie, Gambia



    Leave Africa to the Africans until they are ready to join the ranks of civilised nations.

    Mick DeMario, USA
    USA stay away! Every time we Americans get involved in an African dispute, we lose troops, end up policing the country for years and end up with a flow of refugees that influence our culture negatively for even longer.
    It's time we realise African politics and lack of civil stability are things Americans cannot and should not continue to try to control. Britain take heed, remove your nationals and then your military forces and close your borders to refugees. Leave Africa to the Africans until they are ready to join the ranks of civilised nations.
    Mick DeMario, USA

    It is very disappointing to read comments that evoke the Darwinian principle. Such comments are, at best, based on a complete misunderstanding of the issues; or, at worst, on some jaded view of African development. The issues are simple: Firstly, it was criminal to reward Sankoh's atrocities, and secondly, the conflict is perpetually fuelled by the buyers of smuggled diamonds. The people of Sierra Leone never asked for this. Outgunned by diamond-purchased weaponry, the Government was forced to accept the RUF in Freetown (sending a dangerous signal to Sankoh). Then, of course, there was the UN . . .
    Elizabeth Guillaume, Cote d'Ivoire

    The way that the UN officers treated us in Sierra Leone resembles like when a child depends upon a bogus father who makes many promises but cannot fulfil them. It is a big shame on the part of UN. Please UN officers you are highly paid for your mission in Sierra Leone therefore we don't expect you to mingle yourselves with the big bully's blood money and diamonds.
    Abraham Aziz Bundu, Sierra Leone

    I think that we should stop giving aid to these countries until they get their act together. British Paras or Marines should be sent in to evacuate our people and the UN troops should adopt a maximum force approach.
    Darren Marrison, UK

    The bottom line is that neither the government nor the RUF is sincere about keeping the peace. Only Johnny Paul Koroma is sincere and he is out of his depth. If UN realises that the problem is not just with the rebels but also with the government, they would not have taken sides like they did to forcefully disarm rebels whilst the government militia prances around fully armed.
    Ransford Johnson, Sierra Leone



    Britain should show her muscle and demonstrate a show of force, like the Falklands War to bring peace.

    Jeff, USA
    The breakdown of peace in Sierra Leone can be blamed on the fact that the peacekeepers are too lightly armed - as it is, they are being used as target practice by the warring factions.
    Britain should show her muscle and demonstrate a show of force, like the Falklands War to bring peace. Force is the only language that these kind of warring factions understand.
    Jeff, USA

    I want to take this opportunity to thank the UN for the little they have done. Sierra Leone is rather an unfortunate country. We are tired with this nonsense from Foday Sankoh and crew. I believe he should be arrested for murder. We need military help from US, UK, France and any country than can help to stop these senseless acts.
    Abou B. Jalloh, USA



    Sankoh and his men will never give up power. How will they survive without the diamonds and looted property?

    Henry Williams, Sierra Leone/New York
    My candid opinion as someone who had been through most of the troubled years is the lack of adequate leadership in all facets of Sierra Leone life. Everyone is suspicious of the other. The Civil Defence forces if they had been given adequate support, were ready to lay down their lives for the country and patriotic Sierra Leoneans were ready to support them. However, suspicion of a possible coup was raised which was not true.
    Secondly, patriotic Sierra Leoneans had moved against the content of the Lome agreement where power was given to those who had committed atrocities against the citizenry where given positions without any remorse.
    Finally, Foday Sankoh has to copy cat his former mentor Charles Taylor by becoming Head of State at all cost. Too much lip service is paid to this process. How can the ones fuelling the war be negotiators - Charles Taylor, Blaise Campaore, Eyadema, former Konan Bedie and may be the present Junta. It is like setting a thief to catch a thief. Sankoh and his men will never give up power. How will they survive without the diamonds and looted property. The war will end if they are sent out of diamond areas and their bank accounts frozen.
    Henry Williams, Sierra Leone/New York

    Two years ago 120 mainly South Africans had FULL control over the Rebels. They were called "mercenaries". What a shame to let them leave!! But everybody listened to the devil himself (Sankoh). He demanded that Executive Outcomes Leave Sierra Leone. So they left.
    A peace accord was signed, Sankoh stepped up his diamond mining, buying weapons etc, the USELESS UN (what a bunch of money wasters with no guts), were sent in and .... they got what they were not looking for ... a war.
    The UN was used to the Freetown beach, cocktail parties and daily allowances of $160 per day and more. Now they found themselves in a little war. Shame on them. They can not do what a 120 - private Army could do (on less than 3% of the UN's budget!!) WELCOME TO AFRICA UN!! Diamonds and GREED, greet you!
    Cassie, Ex - Private Army in Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone



    I think that the UN is trying its best and should be commended for it's efforts so far in this very fragile situation.

    Tunji Sandford, Nigeria
    I am disappointed by most of the comments made here thus far. If all you know about Sierra Leone is what you have been seeing on TV, then I am sorry to say that you know very little about the present conflict. I think that the UN is trying its best and should be commended for it's efforts so far in this very fragile situation although they still have a whole lot to learn. Now the world can appreciate for themselves that past Nigerian efforts were not as "poor" or "ineffective" as they were made to look.
    Tunji Sandford, Nigeria

    Once again, we see how totally incompetent UN supervised military operations are. The top leadership within the United Nations simply does not exist. What a waste.
    Cmdr. Peter Canaris, retired, USA



    The UN is unreliable, can not take a little bit of threat or resistance and is only in all these countries for MONEY.

    Ex - Helicopter Pilot in Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe
    My little experience once again tells me only one thing. The UN is unreliable, can not take a little bit of threat or resistance and is only in all these countries for MONEY. Money from rich countries for third and fourth world armies and can do nothing, but rely on others. The Indian just lost a helicopter. Why - because they do not want to listen to people that has flown helicopters in wars for many years. If you want to fly in this area at 1000' AGL - be my guest - get shot down. Sorry to say this but we told the UN on many occasions. Look at the Americans and Brits flying there - LOW LEVEL. Good luck UN - you need it!
    Ex - Helicopter Pilot in Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe

    The house may come down and white UN vehicles may role by but the dust kicked up in their wake is not worth saving. The Belgians helped Rwanda, the French Cambodia, the Americans South America, and the Brits - Sierra Leone. When the blood runs down the veins and the foreigners go running away there will be no tally of the borders drawn up centuries ago. The diamonds simply weigh more than a Sierra Leonian kid and that's about all that De Beers will come back to.
    Marc Samuelson, Seattle, USA

    I think it would be much more effective if the UN just paid regional bodies to restore peace at the trouble spots of Africa. The Nigerian soldiers, in my opinion, have done an excellent job of restoring peace there. Now UN troops from other continents are brought. These troops do not really understand the politics in this region and therefore are less likely to be effective.
    Garth, Zimbabwe



    Why not leave Africa alone, in every sense: no intervention, but neither financial help.

    Ed Damvelt, Mexico/Netherlands
    Practically every historical intervention of the UN in third-world countries, laudable as the ideals may be, has proven to be futile to a greater extend. Why not leave Africa alone, in every sense: no intervention, but neither financial help. Almost everything of the latter is used anyway to pay for personal interests of some individuals only and for the consequently needed armoury for the defence of these interests.
    Ed Damvelt, Mexico/Netherlands

    Johny Barrow of US: The UK, US and France intervene only when their interests are concerned. They intervened in Kuwait because of oil. In Yugoslavia, they intervened to weaken Milosevic - the only real opponent of Nato's expansion on the Balkans. Protecting democracy and human rights is just a pretext designed for naive people. If Nato were to expand into Africa, then Sankoh would be in trouble. But, Nato is not going to invade Africa any time soon. So, Sankoh can sleep peacefully, unless rival clans decide to go after him.
    Alam, USA

    What is happening in Sierra Leone has happened else where in this Dark Continent. Mr. Sankhol has no interest in saving what ever has remained of decency if it ever is in his country. He knows that which the largest contingency of the UN troops his source of wealth, diamond will be cut off.
    Lukwesa Phenson, Zambia

    The best thing is to check the source of the problems. Poverty, dictatorism, power, corruption, greed and hunger are the main ingredients that cause the turmoil. For Sierra Leone case, by capture the warlords involved and flew them thousands of miles away from Africa and face trial in The Hague is the best solution. The neighbours also must assist by land blockage so no rebels or fighter can escape. Send Special Force troops to harass the remainder of the rebels till they eventually surrender toward peaceful solutions. Don't let the warlords back home for a long, long time.
    Suhaimi, Singapore

    Seriously speaking, Sierra Leoneans are not yet ready for genuine peace. The world should not force the rebels and government when the two parties are not yet willing to behave peacefully. So the world should back off and let Sierra Leoneans behave in the way they know best.
    Wilcliff, Zambia



    The UN are only there to protect British Nationals and British Economic interests.

    Jose Fernandez, Netherlands
    I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but the British troops are NOT going to Sierra Leone to keep the peace or make peace, they are only there to protect British Nationals and British Economic interests.
    The UK and the US (the evil twins) are not interested in the suffering of the people of Sierra Leone and couldn't care less if everyone dropped dead there; it is not as if there is any natural wealth. They will try to make us believe that they care though, because it's a very popular stance at the moment.
    Jose Fernandez, Netherlands

    Perhaps Bill Powers is right and we should respect the principle of Darwinian Evolution. I.e. let the people of the nation decide whether to live peacefully or to destroy themselves. When Europe was experiencing its growing pains over the last couple of millennia, there was no big brother to come along and intervene. Why should we intervene in Africa, further, it is right for us to intervene?
    I think it is very arrogant of the west to assume that it can accelerate social development in Africa. We do we think we have all the answers?
    Phil Saum, UK



    The West keeps getting sucked in, send money, aid and now requests for intervention...what does the West get in return...the blame.

    Collin, Canada
    One big problem is trusting the UN. A bigger bunch of incompetent, bumbling fools does not exist on this planet. The West keeps getting sucked in, send money, aid and now requests for intervention....what does the West get in return...the blame.
    Collin, Canada

    Maybe the UN intervened to late. Had they done things earlier maybe there would not be such a problem of kidnapping.
    Allsion, Former citizen of a disgraced country named USA



    The people of Sierra Leone want peace. Help us get rid of these bandits.

    Francis Stevens George, Norway
    It was always going to be difficult. The peace deal left too many crucial questions unanswered.
    Trust or to be more cynical "faith in bandits" was left to see the peace process through. Mr. Sankoh will not be satisfied unless he becomes President of the country.
    Ahead of the elections, he is now using tactics design to submit the nation to fear and helplessness. He is bent on creating a situation in which the people vote him into power through fear. Does this sound like Charles Taylor in Liberia? Yes it does. The real issue is what will the UN do? The people of Sierra Leone want peace. Help us get rid of these bandits.
    Francis Stevens George, Norway

    This war is all about diamonds and money. In my five year stay in Freetown and close to getting caught in the 1999 Freetown attack by the rebels I realised most of the political leaders have no interest in developing their country and on the other hand the rebels have no clue what they are doing but for hopes that they will be able to mine diamonds and loot Freetown when they reach there.
    What this country needs is a dictator, a strong but good dictator. And what the International communities needs to do is to control or if possible remove Charles Taylor out of power in neighbouring Liberia.
    Krishna Vamadevan, USA



    Sankor knew that when he starts doing what he is doing, the rest of the world will not fight back.

    Sahr Kobba-Bangurah, USA
    The peace accord was a failure from the start. What the western world does not know is that you can never trust those rebels for any thing. They do not value documents they sign. The UN and other powers do not go to the third world to fight.
    Sankor knew that when he starts doing what he is doing, the rest of the world will not fight back but will pack up and run away, leaving the poor defenceless people to be slaughtered, raped and mutilated. Too bad General Abacha and Khobe died.
    Sahr Kobba-Bangurah, USA

    The UN needs serious reforms. It is supposed to be neutral and not to serve the interests of particular nations. It is a real shame on UN that 300 of its stuff has been taken as hostages. This situation very badly affects the image of the UN on World arena. Once you lose the trust, it's hard to regain it!
    Timur Rustamov, Uzbekistan

    Half of Africa has to perish for us to understand that peace is something invaluable. America's freedom did not come cheap. Through a bloody civil war, they learned the hard way. Let those nations in Africa pass through the same lesson. Only then they will respect peace. Thank God Tanzania is mature enough and is not interested in knowing what it's like killing and maiming fellow citizens.
    Bill Powers, Tanzania

    African Leaders should go seriously to the negotiation table and bring Sierra Leone back to life, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
    Nicholas Sambou, Austria

    I think its about time the UK, US and France render a helping hand to any African nation that is trying to preach democracy. Yugoslavia was helped as well as Kuwait. WHY? Is it because of their ASSETS or because of who they are? We should protect one another in planet earth, and render help to innocent civilians who are been killed because they do not have an equipped army to fight for them. If Sankoh wins then a precedence has been set for others to follow. But if there is intervention by UK, US or France then Sankoh's example will not be followed by others.
    Johnny Barrow, USA


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