The UN mission in Sierra Leone, Unamsil, was created to help implement a peace agreement that was intended to end years of bloody civil war. However, it soon became apparent that Unamsil would have to enforce peace on reluctant parties. Part of its mandate was to disarm 45,000 paramilitaries, many of whom had no intention of giving up their weapons.
The UN - and member countries - were slow in deploying forces, and when they did arrive they were disorganised and poorly equipped. The Nigerian-led force, Ecomog, withdrew because of domestic pressures, and the UN peacekeeping operation descended into chaos.
The rebels managed to steal UN weapons, tanks and uniforms, and kidnap hundreds of UN peacekeepers.