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Sierra Leone’s civil war was officially declared over on 18 January 2002 after eleven years of violence between the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the government. The country is now in a phase of post-conflict reconstruction.
Overview of past and present security situation
The RUF insurgency began along the Liberian boarder and continued through out the early 90's. Popular demand and mounting international pressure, precipitated parliamentary elections April 1996. However, fighting continued. A number of peace agreements failed between 1996 and 2001.
After the unilateral decision to deploy British troops, a ceasefire in May 2000 re-invigorated the peace agreements. Fighting continued but by May 2001 the first stages of DDR had begun - by 2002, around 72,000 ex-combatants had been disarmed. Today, Sierra Leone has a democratically elected government. Effective partnership between national and international actors helped ensure last year’s elections were peaceful, orderly and genuinely contested.
Sierra Leone is a pilot country for UN Peacebuilding Commission (2006), which identified reform of the justice and security sectors, youth employment and empowerment, and capacity-building in governance institutions as key priorities. The Peacebuilding Fund approved 7 projects with a total budget of US$ 15,982,577.
Society and women
Tens of thousands died and an estimated 2.5 million people (over half of the population) were displaced, with Liberia and Guinea hosting large numbers of refugees. A characteristic feature of the conflict was the physical mutilation of civilians. According to the TRC there is an estimated 8,000 amputee victims.
During the conflict, women and children formed the majority of displaced persons, they had few economic and social support structures once men left to fight or search for work and, like in other conflicts, they were specifically targeted for rape, sexual assault and abduction for sexual slavery and combat.
The Sierra Leonian women’s peace movement has been active since 1994, working across sectarian lines and national boarders (with Liberia). However, it was unsuccessful in getting women represented in the peace agreements (Lome Accord) or the planning and execution of the DDR process.