Civil War: 1991-2002

The war in Sierra Leone took a horrible toll. The world noticed.

Credits: Pierre Holtz | UNICEF CAR |



The Sierra Leone Civil War started March 23, 1991, when the Revolutionary United Front, with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia, intervened in Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow the Joseph Momoh government.

The resulting civil war lasted 11 years and left over 50,000 dead. Many villages were wiped out, either burned to the ground or overtaken by rebels. For many children, there was no possibility of attending school for more than a decade.

Some children were forced to become soldiers.






Beah, Ishmael (2007). A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Beah, Ishmael (2014). Radiance of Tomorrow: A Novel. Sarah Crichton Books.

Bergner, Daniel (2003). In the Land of Magic Soldiers: a Story of White and Black in Africa. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Campbell, Greg (2004). Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones. Boulder: Westview.

Denov, Myriam S (2010). Child soldiers: Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Dorman, Andrew M (2009). Blair’s Successful War: British Military Intervention in Sierra Leone. Ashgate.

Mustapha, Marda; Bangura, Joseph J. (2010). Sierra Leone Beyond the Lomé Peace Accord. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mutwol, Julius (2009). Peace Agreements and Civil Wars in Africa: Insurgent Motivations, State Responses, and Third-Party Peacemaking in Liberia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press.

Olonisakin, Funmi (2008). Peacekeeping in Sierra Leone. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Özerdem, Alpaslan (2008). Post-War Recovery: Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sesay, Amadu et al. (2009). Post-War Regimes and State Reconstruction in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Dakar: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa.



The war served as the background for the 2006 movie “Blood Diamond,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The documentary movie Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars tells the story of a group of refugees who fled to Guinea and created a band to ease the pain of the constant difficulty of living away from home and community after the atrocities of war and mutilation.

In the documentary Brownstones to Red Dirt,”  kids from Brooklyn, NY housing projects try to change the world when they are paired with Sierra Leonean pen pals orphaned by a civil war.

PBS produced a special “News Hour with Jim Lehrer” report “Cry Freetown.” Photojournalist Sorious Samura discusses his award-winning documentary and the brutal civil war in his home country of Sierra Leone.



Jon Stewart interviewed Ishmael Beah Feb. 14, 2007. “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”