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Tuesday, 30 May, 2000, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Should we be arming Sierra Leone?
British Royal Marines are preparing to land in Sierra Leone, as part of the UK's effort to help the country's government.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Another, more controversial, move announced by the UK is the supply of arms and ammunition to Sierra Leone government troops.
The British Defence Secretary said the use of these weapons will be supervised by British officers on the ground.
But is this a wise decision, given Sierra Leone's instability and history of violence? Is the UK adding fuel to the fire of the civil war, or is it backing a legitimate government's bid to restore order to the country? Tell us what you think.
Kayode Tani-Olu, USA
I believe that Britain as Sierra Leone's former colonial ruler, has a moral obligation to provide arms to the Sierra Leone Army. The SLA is trying as best it can, with the limited resources it has, to rid its country of the ruthless and merciless RUF soldiers who have pillaged and destroyed Sierra Leone over the lucrative diamond mines of the eastern part of the country.
Jacki, Phuket, Thailand
Rather than sending arms to Sierra Leone, should not the UK and the international community as a whole, concentrate on the causes of the civil war, rather than the symptoms? Supplying arms and sending in troops, as was the case with Northern Ireland in the late 1960's, is only a short-term solution. Without addressing the long-term problems, violence within Sierra Leone will continually flare up.
I find some of the remarks very offensive. I come from Sierra Leone and the UK has been very helpful in restoring sanity in that country. We should applaud their efforts.
The problem is that guns kill people. Sending weapons to Sierra Leone can only benefit those who profit from the arms sales. It does not benefit those who want peace. In fact, it makes the area even more unstable. We should stop all weapons going into African States. If not, it will cause a great deal of trouble for everybody.
Albert Devakaram, India
Funny how Britain was one of the main countries who stopped the Bosnians from receiving weapons during the war.
I guess that somehow Sierra Leone is more of a national interest being as close to Britain as it is.
The British never seem to learn. By arming today's government in Sierra Leone, you will probably be arming tomorrow's enemy. There is an absence of any good governance in Africa. The entire continent is a mess.
Walter Laboke, Gulu, Uganda
Whether or not we should arm any country is entirely irrelevant. Nothing
and no one is allowed to stop the weapons shops. Ever since Thatcher,
our biggest export has been the tools of death. It's what we do best.
Words fail me. Sending more arms to Africa is tantamount to pouring petrol on an existing conflagration. When will this madness stop? It is an affront to poor people everywhere (in Britain and Sierra Leonne) to take their money to buy arms when it could be better spent improving their lot.
Malcolm McCandless, Scotland
How can the government afford to arm this army, when our own UK forces already have severe shortages of equipment? It was only a few weeks ago that all Lynx helicopters were grounded and there were stories of ammunition shortages in Kosovo. This government should get our own UK forces back up to strength before offering to supply equipment this country needs to other countries.
For once we are doing something right abroad. I'm very much in favour of helping out Sierra Leone's legitimate government. The RUF are ruthless, heavily armed, and well funded from diamond sales. There is no peaceful way to stop this war.
I think the UK has a moral obligation to protect innocent civilians, women and children from the cruel inhumane hands of the RUF. I accept the UK condition thet the guns should never be given to children. This must be fully adhered to by the Sierra Leone army and the civil militia and it is the duty of the British government to ensure this does not happen.
Can someone explain to me just why we're sending troops to all these countries when there are much better things we could be spending the money on at home instead? Is the government deliberately trying to encourage foreigners to see Britain as a new imperialist power to fight against?
Winston Hunter, UK
I am against young males holding large loaded weapons in their hands as they aimlessly wander the streets of Sierra Leone trying to impress the older males by discharging randomly on innocent people.
It is an African problem. We should not be there in the first place. When this war finishes, another will start somewhere else. We will never fully understand why they always have wars. In any case, in the future, these UN trained troops may turn on us. We never learn from the past.
Henry Case, UK
It looks like the options are, leave our troops there indefinitely, or arm and train the local forces to a standard whereby they can do the job effectively. My preferred option is to train and arm them, at the end of the day it is a lot better than loosing even one life.
It makes a mockery of an ethnical foreign policy by arming a foreign nation that uses child soldiers. The picture at the top of this screen shows a child carrying a British-made SLR rifle. Add to that the fact that their commanding officers are giving these children alcohol and drugs so-called 'morale boosters' to keep them fighting.
Matt Pettitt, England
There is nothing our troops can do to bring order to the feudal tribalism that afflicts this
area of the world and we should withdraw and let them learn their
own tragic lessons just as we had to do in the past. Let's not allow
one more drop of British blood to be spilt in what seems to be a futile
I assume that the government forces do not hack off civilian limbs and are to some extent accountable to its people. The RUF however, has no such distinction. Any contributions that will support a legitimate government against a ruthless organisation should be welcomed. However, any assistance should be well thought out and committed to a final outcome.
I think its stupid of the Brits to give them more weapons. If we must get involved then our troops should sort the rebels out, disarm the lot of them and then get the hell out
Johan Elg, Sweden
The British going in and doing a 'proper job' would be an unmitigated disaster, we only have to look at past conflicts to see that. How do you avoid pushing the RUF further into Liberia and Guinea?
The UK should neither sell nor give weapons abroad. A genuinely ethical foreign policy would take a stand against the arms trade, not participate in it.
I definitely believe Britain is doing the right thing. The Sierra Leone Army is poorly armed, and with Britains help, Sierra Leone's days of peace will be restored.
We should either go in and do a proper job or not intervene. We only went in originally to fuel Robin Cook's ego and deflect public opinion away from other government mishaps. Now it looks like we shall have to pay for another blunder by the worst foreign secretary we have had for ages.
25 May 00 | Africa
Fatal ambush in Sierra Leone
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