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April 27, 2012

Sierra Leone: 10 years after Civil War

After 10 years of civil war, Sierra Leone is at peace. Charles G. Taylor, the former president of Liberia and once a powerful warlord, was convicted April 26 by an international tribunal of 11 counts of planning, aiding and abetting war crimes committed in Sierra Leone during it's civil war in the 1990s. Taylor was guilty of involvement in crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape, slavery and the use of child soldiers. Prosecutors alleged that Taylor, from his base in neighboring Liberia, directed and armed the rebels and because of that, bears direct responsibility for the results of that war. The eleven-year conflict (from 1991-2002) left more than 50,000 dead and was marked by unprovoked and unjustified violence - especially the amputation of limbs. Sierra Leone is peaceful, a decade later, but is among the world's poorest countries, with a much longer recovery in store. Reuters' Photographer Finbarr O'Reilly gives us a glimpse of life in the West African nation today. -- Paula Nelson (28 photos total)

People walk through the town of Kailahun in eastern Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone's 11-year conflict from 1991-2002 left over 50,000 dead and became a byword for gratuitous violence, especially the amputation of limbs. A decade later, the West African nation is peaceful, but among the world's poorest. It is due to hold elections in November. April 23, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters)

Containers of palm oil lie in front of a store in the town of Kailahun in eastern Sierra Leone, April 23, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

The remote border post between Liberia and Sierra Leone, where fighters from Liberia entered on March 23, 1991, and triggered the start of the civil war, in the village of Bomaru, eastern Sierra Leone, April 22, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

Brothers Junisa, 12, and Momo Kabba, 13, whose parents and grandparents were killed during the civil war, now work tilling rice fields for the equivalent of US$0.70 per day, in the village of Bomaru, where the conflict started in 1991 in eastern Sierra Leone, April 22, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

A sign commemorating the start of the civil war is displayed at a memorial site where the conflict began, in the village of Bomaru, eastern Sierra Leone, April 22, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

A wall in a building, notoriously called the "Slaughterhouse," where rebel civil war victims were reportedly butchered using machetes and knives, is splattered with what local residents say are human bloodstains, in the town of Kailahun, eastern Sierra Leone, April 23, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

A headstone marks the mass grave of rebel victims in the village of Bomaru where the conflict started in 1991, in eastern Sierra Leone, April 22, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

Graffiti scrawled by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in the town of Kailahun in eastern Sierra Leone, April 23, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

Olympic hopeful Abdul Rashid Bangura, 27, shadow boxes while training at the national stadium in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, April 25, 2012. Sierra Leone's national boxing team was scrambling to raise money to send athletes to an Olympic qualifying event, but lack of financing and government support means the competition is likely out of reach for most of the national team. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

Pupils attend a Koranic school in the town of Small Sefoda in eastern Sierra Leone, April 22, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

A boy stands in an abandoned home that was damaged during the 1991-2002 civil war, with graffiti scrawled by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, in the town of Kailahun in eastern Sierra Leone, April 23, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

Diamonds lie on a table beside a mobile phone in the town of Koidu, in eastern Sierra Leone, April 21, 2012. Fighting in the 1991-2002 civil war was focused on controlling the diamond fields, and the profits from the stones provided the funding to the warring sides.(Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

Artisanal miners pan for diamonds, which fueled the 1991-2002 civil war, in the town of Koidu in eastern Sierra Leone, April 21, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

An artisanal miner pans for diamonds in the town of Koidu, April 21, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

A sheet advertising a traditional medicine doctor's services hangs outside his home by the roadside in the town of Small Sefoda in eastern Sierra Leone, April 22, 2012. With poor health services, some in Sierra Leone rely on traditional medicines. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

A hacked stump stands in the midst of a logged area in eastern Sierra Leone, April 22, 2012. Logging is illegal in Sierra Leone, but remains the leading cause of environmental degradation, according to the European Union. Population pressure, common slash and burn methods and illegal logging mean the country's bountiful forests could disappear by 2018, according to the Forestry Ministry. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

A worker carries charcoal through a slashed and burned area in eastern Sierra Leone, April 20, 2012. Population pressure, common slash and burn methods and illegal logging mean the country's bountiful forests could disappear by 2018, according to the Forestry Ministry. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

A boy working to make charcoal stands in a slashed and burned area in eastern Sierra Leone April 20, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

A forest burns in eastern Sierra Leone April 23, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

A woman uses a net to catch fish in a pool of water near the city of Makeni in Sierra Leone, April 20, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

Kadiatu Kauma, 24, sits in a hospital with gunshot wounds to her arm, stomach and back after police opened fire on a crowd of protestors in the mining town of Bumbuna, April 19, 2012. A woman was shot and killed and several others were wounded when police opened fire on a crowd protesting wages and working conditions at the British mining company African Minerals, according to witnesses, hospital staff and police officials. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

Komba Nyanku, 12, (who wants to become a lawyer) and his friend, Abdoulaye Marrah, 12, (who dreams of being a pilot) in the town of Koidu in eastern Sierra Leone, April 21, 2012. Neither of the boys have money to pay school fees. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

Girls selling sweets watch from their makeshift kiosk while other boys and girls their age attend school in the city of Makeni in Sierra Leone, April 20, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

Sia Mondeh, 12, who would like to become a lawyer, in Koidu in eastern Sierra Leone, April 21, 2012. Mondeh has no money for school fees. The West African nation is now peaceful, but among the world's poorest. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

Guests attend a wedding in Koidu in eastern Sierra Leone, April 21, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters #

Groom Mohamed Araphan Kabba and his bride, Fatmata Kabba, celebrate their wedding with guests in Koidu in eastern Sierra Leone, April 21, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

A grandmother gives her grandchildren lessons on their porch in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, April 24, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #

People living in makeshift apartments at an abandoned former presidential palace look out from a balcony in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, April 24, 2012. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters) #



 
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