- The United Nations has warned that international drug trafficking threatens to reverse Sierra Leone's progress in consolidating peace six year after a devastating civil war.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the Security Council that illicit drug trafficking, has a huge potential for disrupting the security and socio-economic stability of the West African state.
He said the region has to address the current phenomenon before it takes root and poses even greater dangers, noting that the increasing use of Sierra Leone for transhipment of drugs from South America to Europe could destabilise the country.
"Cocaine trafficking represents the biggest single threat to Sierra Leone, especially since drug trafficking tends to be accompanied by arms and human trafficking, corruption and the subversion of legitimate state institutions," he added.
Mr Ban said the international community should continue to support the country in combating the menace as well as in fighting sea piracy and supporting the overall process of peace-building.
He also said urgent action is vital to combat youth unemployment, which remains the most acute concern in a country where the young constitute the largest proportion of the population, while calling on both the government and the international community to ensure that the victims of the war receive the care and rehabilitation they need.
The report is the first since the October opening of the UN Integrated Peace-building Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), the latest in a series of UN missions over the past 10 years that have helped the country get back on its feet from a horrific 10-year war that killed tens of thousands of people and injured countless others, many of whom had their limbs amputated by rebel forces.
In the report, Mr Ban charts the progress made and the challenges that still lie ahead, highlighting the need for all segments of the country, including the government, political parties and civil society to work together to enhance national cohesion and political reconciliation and the urgency of making greater efforts to meet crucial socio-economic demands, including poor infrastructure and an extremely low revenue base.
He said the government has made the fight against corruption a key element of its reform plan, and to improve the health sector with the help of the UN agencies.
Sierra Leone is one of the first two countries, along with Burundi, to receive support from the UN Peacebuilding Commission, established in 2005 to help post-conflict countries avoid slipping back into chaos and to determine the priority areas for rebuilding out of the vast array of challenges they face.
More than 90 per cent of the $35 million granted to Sierra Leone from the Peacebuilding Fund has been used on 14 projects ranging from anti-corruption, decentralisation and local governance and for the development of an independent national broadcasting service, according to the UN.
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