The UN agreed to double the size of the peacekeeping force to 11,000 troops. They will take over from the 10,000 man ECOMOG force. So far, UNAMSIL has brought five battalions into the country. Half the 4,819 troops onn hand are Nigerian, Ghanaian and Guinean units simply switching from ECOMOG control. India has sent 1,442 troops and Kenya 843. There are some 45,000 former rebels and government troops to be demobilized and disarmed.
January 20; 2000; Rebels in the northeast released over a hundred underage soldiers, continuing a policy urged on them by peacekeeping forces. However, some of the kids were seized again by the rebels shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, rebels in the north continue to attack villages and kill civilians. The rebels are out of control and turning to banditry while trying to negotiate more favorable surrender bonuses with the government.
January 18; 2000; Rebels in the north attacked a village, looted it and killed three civilians.
January 17; 2000; The UN estimates that some 10,000 children (boys and girls under 18) took part in the recent civil war. Some 5,400 carried weapons. Teenage warriors are not unknown in this part of the world, or elsewhere (boys of 16 can enlist in the British army). But until cheap assault guns became available in the last few decades, only boys in the late teens, strong enough to match adults in hand to hand combat, were used in warfare. But with AK-47s, anyone old enough to hold the weapon and pull the trigger were useful as soldiers.
January 10; 2000; The head of the RUF went through the eastern part of the country trying to convince his troops to lay down their arms. Many rebels want more generous payments before they disarm.
January 6; 2000; Five of the six infantry battalions forming the combat component of the UN peacekeeping force are now in country at have taken up their positions in strategic locations.
January 5; 2000; The commander of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) convinced rebels 140 kilometers northeast of the capital to allow peacekeepers into the area. The 6,000 man ECOMOG peacekeeping force will be at its full strength by the end of the month. The UN is trying to get the force increased to 10,000 troops, for there is a lot of work to do with so many rebels who have not fully come to terms with the peace agreement.
January 4; 2000; RUF rebels have opened roads they have blocked for years. Civilians and UN peacekeepers can now travel to large areas of the interior without danger of attack from rebels. Bandits are still a problem, though.