Peace: Sierra Leone restates commitment to ward off small arms, drugs
September 27, 2012 17:27
Abuja, Sept. 27, 2012 (NAN) Henry Macauley, High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to Nigeria, has reiterated the commitment of his country to check the proliferation of small arms and drugs trafficking as a way of fostering lasting peace.
Macauley who spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja said that the government of Sierra Leone was focusing a lot of attention on small arms proliferation.
He said that the nation had been out of war for 12 years and hoped for continuous peace and would fight against anything that could threaten the peace of the country.
NAN reports that between 1991 and 2002 the Sierra Leone civil war devastated the country leaving more than 50,000 people dead and much of the country's infrastructure destroyed.
The war also displaced more than 2,000,000 people to neighbouring countries as refugees; mainly to Guinea, which became home to more than 600,000 Sierra Leonean refugees.
Cue in audio 1
``A lot of attention has been focused on small arms proliferation; that’s the reason why under the ECOWAS protocol, small arms trade is very strictly regulated.
``As a matter of fact no country can import small arms without having that ECOWAS certificate; so that is one mechanism that has been put in place to check against this proliferation and it’s working very well.
``We are also very aware of cross-border possibilities in terms of arms trade and our security forces at the borders are very alert and up to the task.
``In terms of drugs trafficking, this is a problem that is aggressively facing the whole of West Africa.’’
Cue out audio
Macauley explained that some years ago, a drugs-laden aircraft from Colombia was impounded at the airport in Free Town following a tipoff and all those involved in the drugs deal were severely punished and the drugs were destroyed.
He said that the country was collaborating with all the international agencies to make sure that the menace of drug trafficking was limited or even eradicated in Sierra Leone.
The high commissioner stressed that the country, under the leadership of President Ernest Koroma was poised to ensuring lasting peace for the government and people of Sierra Leone.
Cue in audio 2
``Sierra Leone has been out of war officially over 12 years now going on 13 years; since this government took over in 2010 we were actually awarded the Accord Peace Prize in recognition of good governance and respect for human rights.
``I can confidently tell you that Sierra Leone today is being looked at as a model for post-conflict progress; when they want to look at a country that is coming out of conflict they will tell you go and study how Sierra Leone did it.
``Since then, we have been able to engender deep peace in Sierra Leone. President Ernest Bai Koroma has never had occasion to arrest any journalist, in fact our policemen don’t even carry guns on the streets of Freetown.
``All of these are much evidence of the peaceful stature of the president and of the people at this time.’’
Cue out audio
Macauley said that the country was able to overcome post-war challenges using the Truth and Reconciliation method while also utilising programmes aimed at bringing quick relief to war victims and displaced families through job creation and entrepreneurship training.
He said that there were also collaborative efforts by the international community in making sure that very quickly, people had something to do and forgot about the horrors of the past.
On ways of keeping the youths which make up a greater percentage of the population of the country busy, the envoy said that unemployment was a challenge in Sierra Leone as it was all over the world.
He stressed that unemployment was not peculiar to Africa, but was a global problem adding that the government of Sierra Leone was setting up structures to handle the issue.
He said that a team of Nigerians from the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria and the National Directorate of Employment designed a blueprint for youth empowerment in Sierra Leone in 2011 and that it had worked very well.
Cue in audio 3
``Youth unemployment is a global problem today, not only in Africa even in Europe, in fact I think more so in Europe where over 60 per cent of children who leave home for the job market end up returning home in the UK.
``Jobs are very few and the youth population is growing so this is a huge global problem. In Sierra Leone, we have been able to set up what we call the National Youth Commission.
``National Youth Commission was set up so that the youth can have a structure through which they can articulate their needs and requirements.
``That structure would also serve as a bridge between the central government and the youth population by way of providing them opportunities; providing them jobs; providing them skills and training.
``What do we have today? We have youth groups that have been well structured so this way it is easier for us to disseminate assistance and distribute opportunities to them.
Cue out audio
Macauley said that the present infrastructure development agenda of the Sierra Leonean government had also helped to employ a number of the youths as a lot of construction projects were ongoing.
He said that agriculture had also helped to absorb a lot of the youths, making them gainfully employed.
Cue in audio (arms)
``More youths are in jobs today than ever before in the history of Sierra Leone and it’s not ending; it is work in progress, as you know every day more youths are created so every day, you need to create more jobs.’’ (NAN)