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Sierra Leone pastor discovers 706-carat diamond
16 March 2017 - A Christian pastor has found one of the world's largest uncut diamonds -- weighing 706 carats -- in Sierra Leone's eastern Kono region. A local chief from Kono handed the stone to President Ernest Bai Koroma on behalf of Emmanuel Momoh who made the discovery. The government plans to auction it. (more)

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars sing to heal wounds of war
29 July 2014 - It's a long way from the refugee camps of Africa to Poland's balmy Baltic coast, but for Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, the message is still the same. With his socially-conscious lyrics, band leader Ruben Koroma hopes that his music can help uplift people and detraumatize them. Appearing at Poland's Globaltica World Cultures Festival last weekend, they delivered a typically vibrant, energetic, and uplifting show. It has been a remarkable journey for the band formed in a Guinean refugee camp during Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war. Their first album was recorded in tin-roofed shacks in a Freetown shantytown -- a process depicted in a 2005 documentary film. Koroma's message is one of peace. (more)

Drawing down - the end of UN Peace Operations in Sierra Leone
31 March 2014 - After more than 15 years of successive peace operations, the last United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office (UNIPSIL) is closing at the end of March. Among the challenges immediately ahead are support to the Government in the constitutional review process, as well as strengthening human rights, and justice institutions. (more)

Sierra Leone is a success story built on steady progress
26 March 2014 - With more than 15 years of United Nations peace operations in Sierra Leone set to wrap up at the end of this month, the top UN official there said that while the West African nation has gained solid footing on the path to recovery, it will still require sustained international attention and support to address the lingering challenges from a brutal civil war in the 1990s. Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzenalso, head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone, praised the determination of the people and Government to break with the past and work towards a peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation. (more)

Unique African marathon offers hope to street children
25 March 2013 - The Kiln Sierra Leone Marathon has been billed the 'craziest and most worthwhile' marathon in the world and last year raised £320,000 to help the thousands of street children in the country. There's something stirring in Makeni. In Sierra Leone's largest city, thousands of street children are now being reunited with their families and given access to education. This welcome change is all thanks to a small, voluntary-led charity, Street Child, and the runners who are brave enough to take on the charity's challenging but hugely rewarding fundraising event, the Kiln Sierra Leone Marathon, now in its second year. (more)

UN team visits Sierra Leone to support women's empowerment
6 March 2013 - Ahead of International Women's Day, a team of United Nations agency representatives arrived in Sierra Leone to support gender equality and to gain international attention for a new national policy meant to recognize the critical role of women in achieving broad-based economic growth and consolidating peace efforts. (more)

Sierra Leone: Ban congratulates winner of presidential election, calls for unity
26 November 2012 - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today [26 November] congratulated Ernest Bai Koroma on his win in Sierra Leone's presidential election, and called on him and all political leaders in the country to maintain calm and work towards unity and reconciliation. According to a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban also lauded Sierra Leone's institutions for carrying out recently the first presidential, parliamentary, local council and mayoral elections run entirely but he Government on a peaceful manner, saying that this demonstrates the people's strong commitment to consolidating democracy and development. (more)

Sierra Leone: UN Secretary-General lauds peaceful conduct of polls and high voter turnout
18 November 2012 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday congratulated the people of Sierra Leone for the peaceful and orderly elections held on Saturday, the first to be run entirely by the Government since the end of the West African nation's brutal civil war 10 years ago. The voter turnout was reportedly high for the four elections -- presidential, parliamentary, local council, and mayoral -- held on Saturday, the results of which will not be known for about 10 days. (more)

Sierra Leone votes peacefully, seeks development
17 November 2012 - Sierra Leoneans chose Saturday between keeping an incumbent President who has expanded health care and paved roads or electing an opposition candidate to lead this war-scarred nation still recovering a decade later despite its mineral riches. Voters said Saturday they wanted to demonstrate just how far Sierra Leone has come over the past decade by holding a transparent and peaceful vote. (more)

Factbox: Sierra Leone, a rising African star?
16 November 2012 - Sierra Leone is poised to be one of the world's fastest growing nations this year. Aside from its rich iron ore, gold and diamond deposits, the West African country is also in one of the most promising regions for offshore oil exploration. The following is a factbox on Sierra Leone as it elects a President. (more)

Short Summaries of Top Stories

Ebola-hit children in Sierra Leone go hungry amid food shortages: charity
7 November 2016 - Thousands of Ebola orphans, teenage mothers, and children in charge of households in Sierra Leone are struggling to feed themselves and their families amid widespread food shortages in the West African nation, a British charity said on Monday, 7 November. The world's worst outbreak of the disease -- now officially over -- killed more than 11,300 people and infected some 28,600 as it swept through Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea from 2013. The Ebola epidemic left more than 12,000 children orphaned while at least 18,000 teenage girls became pregnant during the outbreak, according to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA). (more)

New Sierra Leone Ebola cases frustrate efforts to end outbreak
8 September 2015 - Sierra Leone has recorded four new cases of Ebola in a village on its northern border and will likely see more infections in a further setback to efforts to end an 18-month West African epidemic, a senior health official said on 8 September. (more)

Sierra Leone diamond zone hit by largely hidden Ebola outbreak
10 December 2014 - Health officials in Sierra Leone fear a major Ebola outbreak may have gone largely unreported until now in a remote district where the World Health Organization (WHO) said scores of bodies piled up in a hospital. The WHO said on Wednesday that it had sent a response team to the diamond-rich Kono district following a worrying spike in reported Ebola cases in the district, which lies along the country's eastern border with Guinea. 'They uncovered a grim scene,' the UN health agency said in a statement. (more)

Sand-mining threatens homes and livelihoods in Sierra Leone
1 February 2013 - Round-the-clock sand-mining on beaches within a few kilometres of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown is having a devastating effect on the coastline, destroying property, and damaging the area's hopes of a tourism revival. Kolleh Bangura, the director of Sierra Leone's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is concerned about the rate of sand-removal from the beaches. 'It is getting worse,' he told IRIN, explaining that until sand-mining began the rate of coastal erosion was around one metre per year. 'Now it is up to six metres [in certain places].' 'When they take sand from one part of the beach it upsets the balance, and triggers a direct hit on the coast,' he said. In the village of Lakka whole stretches of coastline are littered with the remains of buildings whose foundations have been washed from underneath them as a result of sand-mining. Many coastal residents can only watch as the coastline draws ever-nearer to their homes. 'Sand-mining is a calamity for the tourism industry,' said the EPA's Bangura. 'Anywhere in the world, sand is the resource of tourism, but now our beaches are being degraded.' The miners themselves acknowledge that sand-mining is not a sustainable enterprise. 'In time they need to ban it, as we want to bring tourism here,' said Abu Bakarr, as he heaped sand onto one of about 40 waiting trucks parked on Hamilton Beach. 'But we need sand-mining to sustain our lives... The government needs to give us jobs. If there are no jobs the youths will mine the sand.' (more)

Sierra Leone: Diamonds lure children out of school
6 December 2012 - Sierra Leone's diamonds fuelled the 1991-2002 civil war, and are now boosting economic growth, but at the same time they are keeping thousands of children out of school. At a mine resembling a lunar landscape outside Koidu town in Kono Region -- the diamond mining heartland in northeastern Sierra Leone -- thousands of young men dig and shovel gravel in search of the precious stone. 'In many families, children are becoming the breadwinners,' Esate Konteh, from a local NGO in Kono Region, told IRIN. 'When the civil war ended in 2002, many families had lost one or two parents. Some of them had their limbs amputated and could not work or were not eligible for employment.' Children are paid 10,000-20,000 leones (US$3-6) a day and 40,000 leones if they find diamonds. In Kenema, to the east of the capital, and Koidu, around 3,000 children are estimated to be working in the mines, but there are no official figures and the number might be much higher. (more)

Child mortality highest in Sierra Leone
23 January 2008 - A newborn in Sierra Leone has the lowest chance in the world of surviving until age five, and the prospects are almost as bad for children in Angola and Afghanistan, according to a UN report released Tuesday. Sub-Saharan Africa, where the rate has dropped only 14 per cent since 1990, is the region of greatest concern, the report said. It is home to 28 of the 30 countries with the highest child mortality rates. (more)

Sierra Leone: Unrest in diamond-mining area
20 December 2007 - The Sierra Leone government has called for an inquiry into unrest over diamond-mining operations in the east of the country after residents were killed in protests last week. The government has ordered operations suspended at Koidu Holdings Mining Company's site in the town of Koidu in Kono district, according to a 17 December statement. Youths stormed the Koidu Holdings site on 13 December, setting fire to surrounding bushes, a company administrator told IRIN. Residents were protesting the mining operations' impact on living conditions, saying the company has failed to compensate affected families. Rich in diamonds, Kono district lacks piped water, electricity, and good roads, citizens say. Residents have long denounced what they call exploitation by diamond seekers. (more)

Sierra Leone: Fertile farmland lies fallow
23 September 2007 - Tens of thousands of hectares of fertile farmland lie fallow in Sierra Leone, while tens of thousands of able-bodied men are unemployed. Rice is the country's staple yet most of what Sierra Leoneans currently eat is imported from Asia. The farming methods of most farmers in Sierra Leone are currently so inefficient that even those who do grow rice don't produce enough to subsist. (more)

Sierra Leone: Food imports keeping country from realizing agricultural self-sufficiency
27 July 2007 - Food imports are keeping Sierra Leone from realizing agricultural self-sufficiency and meeting the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating hunger by 2015, experts say. In a country where 80 per cent of food is imported, mostly from the USA and Europe, the local agricultural industry is feeble and local farmers struggle to compete. (more)


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