Sierra Leone

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Kfor – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th October 2000.

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Photo of Geoff Hoon Geoff Hoon Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence 12:00 am, 30th October 2000

May I deal with the premise behind the hon. Gentleman's question? There is no suggestion at the moment that the UN force is not effective. It has preserved peace in Sierra Leone and there is no sign that the rebels have taken any new ground. Indeed, it is clearly central to our policy that that force should be effective.

We have been able to help—as I said, we have provided headquarters staff to guide the UN force—and we believe that that is an effective way forward. However, it is important that the Government of Sierra Leone should have effective forces on which they can call. The early training teams have done a tremendous job in making soldiers available to that Government. We believe that they need more soldiers, but those soldiers should be trained not only as individuals, but as formed fighting forces. That work is likely to start fairly shortly. Ultimately, we want the democratically elected Government of Sierra Leone to control their own territory.