Jina Moore, a freelance writer and regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor, recently won the 2011 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize gold medal for best reporting on the United Nations. The award recognizes her coverage of a new UN approach to ending war and promoting peace: peacebuilders, an idea distinct from both peacemaking and peacekeeping. Below, we excerpt the article.
Michael von der Schulenburg drove deliberately into the riot. Angry men filled a main road here in Freetown; they quickly surrounded his car. They were members of the APC, the All People’s Congress, and their leader, Ernest Koroma, was Sierra Leone’s president. They were in a dispute with their opposition over a local election that had taken place a day’s drive deep into the countryside.
That rural dispute turned national and urban, and threatened to turn violent in Freetown. Thousands of APC men thronged toward the headquarters of the opposition party. They were drunk, and they were being used. Men here are cheap – a beer buys a vote – but they are not usually violent.
Mr. Schulenburg, the United Nation’s top man in Sierra Leone, hadn’t been in the country for long, but he did know this: So many men don’t gather by accident, nor do they spontaneously decide to fight over such a paltry political event as a rural vote. Schulenburg didn’t know who had reported the crowd, or why. He’s friendly with Sierra Leone’s “Big Men” – he chats daily with Mr. Koroma by phone. But that day, no one would take his calls.
As he approached the action, he wondered: Was this the kind of raucous discontent typical of Sierra Leonean politics, or was the street rumor right? Could it be the moment that the war comes back?
Read the full article here.