Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone must address high youth unemployment and corruption

Road rehabilitation work on Plantain Island, Sierra Leone

UN - Although Sierra Leone has made strides in consolidating peace and fostering national reconciliation, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says that the West African nation must address the issues of high youth unemployment and corruption to ensure that the gains are not reversed.

In his latest report to the Security Council on the work of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), Mr. Ban notes that “immense challenges” remain in generating jobs for young people, especially in the current economic climate.

Currently, some 800,000 young people are unemployed, employed without remuneration or underemployed, he writes, stressing that reversing this situation requires stepped up international investment.

The country’s former minister of fisheries and marine resources is still on trial for alleged corruption, and the number of cases being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission continues to be steady.

UNIPSIL was established by the Security Council in 2008 to continue UN efforts to augment peace in Sierra Leone following the end of the country’s civil war in 2002. It has the mandate of providing political advice to foster peace and political consolidation, offering support and training to the national police and security forces and strengthening democratic institutions.

The Secretary-General pointed to three significant developments that could potentially greatly impact UNIPSIL’s efforts to shore up peace in Sierra Leone which occurred in the March-August reporting period.

Firstly, he writes, the country is already gearing up for the 2012 elections, and secondly, the Government has speeded up initiatives to wrap up several important mining agreements, which could allow Sierra Leone to become a major mineral exporter.

Lastly, presidential elections in neighbouring Guinea could potentially usher in a new democracy in the Mano River Basin area of West Africa.

“While generating great benefits for Sierra Leone, these developments could also carry considerable inherent risks that bring new and complex challenges, which the Government, political parties and other political stakeholders in Sierra Leone will have to anticipate and manage in the immediate future,” the report notes.