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U.N. official praises Sierra Leone

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, June 9 (UPI) -- A recent move by political leaders in Sierra Leone to avert an escalation in violence is drawing praise from a top U.N. official.

Michael von der Schulenburg, the executive representative for the U.N. Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone, addressed the U.N. Security Council Monday and said political leadership in the West African country deserves some credit for coming together and helping stop a recent surge in violence, the United Nations reported.

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Sierra Leone politicians "deserve the highest praise for how they have handled the recent outbreak of political violence in their country when they came together and signed and committed to the Joint Communique," von der Schulenburg said in a statement.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon echoed von der Schulenburg in a recent report on Sierra Leone, calling the country an example for the region.

Despite the praise, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime has raised concerns about the West African region as a growing hub for transnational criminal groups trafficking drugs and other illicit goods.

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