One of the most popular posts here on Wanderlu5t is my Photo of the Day featuring Sierra Leone. I’ve been meaning to write more about the human rights crisis in that country for some time, but always seem to be too busy to research and plan the entry as well as I would like. I’m still a little too busy at the moment, but I wanted to publish a few more facts about the country and the situation there until I can write a more detailed entry later on.
Ten facts about Sierra Leone:
1. The UN estimates that some 10,000 child soldiers served in the country’s ten-year civil war (1991-2001).
2. For twelve years, Liberia’s then-president Charles Taylor regularly traded weapons and money for Sierra Leone’s diamonds (Wikipedia).
3. In 2009, the World Bank estimated that Sierra Leone’s GDP (gross domestic product) was $1.94 billion for the year, yet 70% of the country’s population lived below the poverty line.
4. Though the country is known for its diamond reserves, mineral mining and agriculture account for 90% of Sierra Leone’s annual revenue. Diamond sales bring in about six million dollars annually, respectively (Revenue Watch).
5. The end of the civil war brought on a renewed interest in educating Sierra Leone’s youth in 2001, but with nearly 1,300 schools having been destroyed in the war, 67% of Sierra Leone’s youth couldn’t attend. Things have improved since then, but as of 2007, nearly 30% of Sierra Leone’s children do not attend school (Wikipedia).
6. Women suffered tremendously during the civil war, being subjected to rape, sexual slavery, and other forms of torture at the hands of Liberian soldiers and Revolution and Revolutionary United Front rebels. These atrocities contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone; at the end of the war, 90,000 of the 170,000+ cases of HIV/AIDS were Sierra Leonan women (United Nations).
7. The literacy rates for Sierra Leonan women are far lower than those of Sierra Leonan men (Wikipedia).
8. On average, Sierra Leonan women live three years longer than Sierra Leonan men, with the average life expectancy for both being 39 years and 42 years, respectively (World Health Organization).
9. Per every 1,000 children born in Sierra Leone, 269 die before reaching the age of five (World Health Organization).
10. The Sierra Leonan government spends 3.5% of its resources on public health each year (World Health Organization).
There is a lot more I’d like to say, especially regarding the human rights abuses that are still ongoing, but I will save it for a later post.