UNAMSIL: Base Case

Headquarters: Mammy Yoko Hotel, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Mission: The U.N. helped bring an end to this West African nation’s civil war in 2002, and U.N. personnel are now charged with keeping the peace and helping the central government regain control over the country.
Top Technology Officer: Jason Mayordomo, chief of information technology for U.N. peacekeeping operations
Financials (for fiscal year ending June 2004): For the mission in Sierra Leone, the U.N. budgeted $543.5 million, of which UNAMSIL is spending $6.64 million for communications and $2.77 million for information technology.
Challenge: Straighten out the mission’s troubled technical infrastructure and improve technical support. Make sure field personnel can depend on network services, starting with the basics of phone and e-mail communications.

Baseline Goals:

  • Keep the peace. Since the peace accord was brokered in 2002, there have been 23 months of relative quiet in the country.
  • Limit U.N. casualties. To date, 113 members of the U.N. contingent have been killed, including 108 armed soldiers.
  • Deploy network services for a new mission to Liberia two weeks prior to the arrival of a U.N. team, rather than the month or more it sometimes takes.
  • Encourage the use of technologies such as voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and other technologies that make more efficient use of bandwidth.

    Inside Sierra Leone

    Location: On the Atlantic coast of Africa, bordering Liberia and Guinea
    Size: 27,699 square miles, a little smaller than South Carolina
    Population: 5.2 million (44% of the population is 14 years old or younger)
    Average Life Expectancy: 45 years
    Literacy: 31.4%
    Telephones: 25,000 land lines; 30,000 cell phones
    Natural Resources: Diamonds, titanium ore, bauxite, iron ore, gold
    Land Use: 6.8% of the land is fit for cultivation; 44% of the population is engaged in agriculture
    U.N. Deployment (as of Oct. 31, 2003): 11,276 troops, 257 military observers and 130 civilian police. Administration: 320 international staff members and 579 locals.
    Recent History: Internal unrest has plagued the country since the end of British rule in 1961. The latest conflict began in 1991 when a rebel force supported by Liberia launched a campaign to topple the established government. A civil war was brutal—marked by rapes, mutilations and the abduction and forced enlistment of children. In 1999, U.N peacekeepers entered the country to enforce order and disarm the insurgents. By May 2000, the U.N.’s efforts were successful in disarming about half the rebel force. In January 2002, most of the insurgents had given up their guns and both rebel and government forces declared an end to hostilities. National elections—which Amnesty International reported were “generally free and fair”—were held in May 2002.

    Sources: United Nations, Amnesty International, CIA’s World Book of Facts, encyclopedia.com