FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTRY FACILITATES RETURN OF 13 SIERRA LEONEAN DOCTORS

20th July 2017 – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has facilitated the return of 13 Sierra Leonean Medical Doctors that were stranded in Venezuela after completion of their studies in October last year.

The newly graduated medics, who went to Venezuela on scholarship since 2010 arrived in Sierra Leone on the 24th June 2017.

Speaking on behalf of a cross section of her colleagues during a courtesy call on the Minister of State I, Rosalitta Toogeabu profusely expressed thanks and appreciation to the Minister and officials of the Ministry for their relentless and selfless effort in facilitating the provision of air tickets to return home.  She highlighted several challenges encountered during their course of study in Venezuela, which she attributed to the political and economic situation in the country. Amidst all these challenges she further disclosed, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs including the Minister of State I, Director of Multilateral and International Organisations, and Ambassador Bockarie Stevens in Washington DC, who on a yearly basis, paid them visit to assess their plight and then take necessary actions. ‘We are here to express our sincere gratitude to the Minister and the Ministry in particular, for such concern for us’, she added.

Madam Rosalitta Toogeabu appealed to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to fast track their deployment, so that they could join their colleagues in the profession to complement government’s effort in delivering quality health services to the people. ‘We have completed our registration process with the Medical and Dental Council’, she ended.

Responding on behalf of the Honourable Minister and the Ministry, the Director General, Ambassador Khadijatu Bassir, expressed appreciation and gratitude to the newly trained medical doctors for the love of their country, particularly the patriotic consideration to come back home to serve after working assiduously to achieve their academic goals.

The Director General lamented that the intention of government was not to expose their students to an unrest environment, neither to let them experience an unfavourable situation; noting that the Venezuela government was not also expecting their current economic hardship which has become also unbearable for her citizens.

She highlighted some of the challenges that the government of Sierra Leone is facing as result of the Ebola epidemic, specifically, the adverse impact on the economy, which created the delay in their repatriation. Notwithstanding, Ambassador Khadijatu Bassir stated, the Ministry, through the Embassy in Washington DC worked tirelessly to ensure their safe repatriation to Sierra Leone. ‘The Ministry will also continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that the remaining students in Venezuela return home safely after the completion of their courses’, she concluded.

Ahead of AGOA in Togo-Sierra Leone participates in US-Africa Business Summit

(MFAIC 25TH July 2017). The Minister Counsellor and Head of Chancery of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington DC Mrs. Isha S.A. Sillah, has on July 13-16, 2017 participated in the 11th Biennial US-Africa Business organized by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) at Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC.

The theme for this year’s Summit was ‘The US Stake in Africa: A call for greater economic engagement’. The essence of the summit was to highlight US-Africa Business Engagement and to raise the profile of business opportunities in Africa for the American Private Sector. The forum was the first opportunity for African Heads of State, Ministers of Government and CEOs of companies to engage with the new administration of President Trump and US Government officials.

The Minister Counsellor and Head of Chancery of the Republic of Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington DC, Mrs. Isha S.A. Sillah, stated that in the wake of a new leadership in America, this year’s summit came at the right time, particularly with the cloud surrounding certain bilateral trade agreements earlier signed by the erstwhile US Government, which is now faced with the uncertainty of continuity by the new Government based on their own perceptions and strategic intrests.

The CCA, she maintained, is a perfect conduit for Africa that will provide an opportunity for the continent to be heard in the public as well as private sectors in the United States of America. The CCA, the Minister Counsellor underscored, will be very helpful in discussing with African states with a view to facilitating a stronger US-Africa investment and business relationship for the mutual benefit of the two continents and its trade partners/companies in Africa.

Mrs. Isha S.A. Sillah, furthered that Africa is believed to be the future destination of commerce with huge potential in raw materials, which will be beneficial to the United States, and will provide opportunities for the US companies doing business in Africa.

According to Mrs. Sillah, some of the plenary topics discussed included; the new US administration’s engagement in Africa despite the decrease in Africa’s growth – it is still a viable place to do business; how ICT will transform business in Africa through data collection; Africa’s role in the global supply chain and Tourism – upgrading the African travel experience, among other issues.

In another related engagement, The Minister Counsellor and Head of Chancery of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington DC Mrs. Isha S.A. Sillah, participated in the Mid Term Review Meeting (18th July, 2017) in Washington DC  in preparation for 2017  African Growth and Opportunity Act  (AGOA) Forum to be held in Lome Togo from 8-10 August, 2017.

Sierra Leone she said, as a member of AGOA beneficiary countries, stands to benefit from the engagement if a national strategy is developed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to increase access to American markets.  She further stated that Sierra Leone has to do a complete mapping of what it requires to effectively export commodities to the US. ‘We have to do more in building knowledge of rules and standards; developing market intelligence about the US market; identifying niches; and developing domestic infrastructure and promoting trade facilitation; among others, she added.

‘Ebola is over and the country is again ready for business. Image change is needed to positively attract investors to our country’, she concluded.

USAID UPDATES FOREIGN AFFAIRS ON PROJECT ACTIVITIES IN SIERRA LEONE

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and three of its implementing partners (Thursday 20th July 2017) updated the Minister of State I and Senior Management staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on project activities implemented in the country between 2014-2017 in the Conference room off the Ministry.

Welcoming USAID and implementing partners-World Vision, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and World Fish; the Minister of State I, Dr. Mohamed Gibril Sesay emphasized the importance of such update meeting while noting that the Ministry, on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone signed Grant Agreements with USAID on the improvement of Agriculture and Food Security situation, governance and economic growth. ‘It is therefore imperative that the Ministry that appended its signature to such agreement for and on behalf of Government and the people of Sierra Leone be informed on the progress of projects implemented in the country thus far’, Dr. Sesay added.

The Minister of State I, further stated that engagement with USAID and implementing partners shows the level of accountability, transparency and commitment in achieving the objective set forth in the Grant Agreement signed between the Republic of Sierra Leone and the US Government acting through USAID.

In her response statement, the USAID Country Coordinator Khadijat Mojidi said that mutual accountability is critical for both the government and people of Sierra Leone and for the government and people of the United States because the assistance being offered is really one for a partnership. USAID she said, implements through third party contractors, but in terms of ensuring that what is needed is delivered on time in a manner that is impactful, the Ministry should hold itself responsible. This update meeting between the two countries, she furthered, including implementing partners, civil society, etc. should be a normal process to hold themselves accountable, and review progress based on plans and actuals, to identify achievements and celebrate those achievements; to identify challenges and try to come up with solutions to those challenges. ‘It was the Minister’s insistence that we start this first in a series of update meeting’, she added.

The USAID Country Coordinator noted the current funding challenges they are facing is as a result of a change/shift of priority in the US following the outcome of their elections last November. ‘We are not going to be getting the budget level as we thought – with this challenge we have to come up with a solution by scaling up our activities using the communities and private sector engaged in the country to make up the short falls’, she added. 

Concluding she recommended taking the next set of meetings to the field, through site visits, talk to beneficiaries, review some of the constraints and hear from those much more involved in the day to day activities of these projects.

Update on activity presentations by implementing partners – CRS, World Vision and World Fish respectively acting through USAID climaxed the meeting followed by a question and answer session.

Present at the meeting were: the Director General and senior management staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the USAID Global Health Security Agenda Advisor, CRS Country Representative, Country Directors of World Vision and World Fish organisations.

Sierra Leone Re-affirms preparedness for a Toxic Free Future

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Smaura M. W. Kamara has reaffirmed to World Leaders the country’s preparedness to work within the framework of a solid partnership intended to build a toxic free future, where dangerous chemicals are no longer produced, used or released on their sovereign terrains.

The aim of this conference which attracted over 170 countries, 1,400 participant and 70 Ministers of various governments is for participating countries to adopt sound management of chemicals and wastes and to ensure that the environment and human health are protected.

Dr. Samura Kamara in his address to delegates of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions held in Switzerland in April this year said the theme of this year’s high-level meeting: “A future detoxified: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste” is indispensable to the effective and healthy management of the world’s environment.

The challenges associated with chemicals and waste he underscored are enormous and harder for countries like Sierra Leone that lack resources, new to the Conventions and have no prior experience of implementation, compliance and reporting.

The Foreign Affairs Minister further reminded delegates that the Vision of Government by 2035 is that Sierra Leone aspires to be an inclusive, green, middle-income country by putting in place an effective environmental management system that protects our biodiversity and is capable of pre-empting environmental disasters. ‘The broad aim of these conventions is consistent with the policy agenda and development aspirations of our Government with regards to building a detoxified future’ he added.

Sierra Leone the Minister maintained is willing and ready to work with all partners and other stakeholders in the domestication and implementation of the Minamata, Basel and Rotterdam Conventions. This he said will enable Sierra Leone to create the appropriate legal environment at the national level to influence the formulation of a national strategy and the required policy actions for the management of chemicals and waste. With the support of the Global Environment Facility and its Agencies Dr. Kamara said, Sierra Leone is currently drafting several legislative instruments geared towards the effective management of chemicals and waste with the aim of protecting human health and the environment.

The country he said is currently engaged in policy actions to continue to demonstrate commitment to the objectives of the three Conventions including stocktaking exercises on several chemicals listed within the Stockholm Convention with a view to updating National Implementation Plan; conducting baseline estimate studies on mercury and its compounds; conducting inventory on obsolete pesticides; developing a National Action Plan (NAP) for the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector and improving Medical Waste management; and raising the bar in keeping its citizens informed on the dangers of poor management of chemicals and waste.

Government is therefore “developing national regulatory frameworks to contain pollution and other environmentally harmful activities from the use of hazardous chemicals and waste”. Our government maintains that environmental protection and development are inseparable and looking after one does not and should not exclude the other, he concluded.

It could be recalled that Sierra Leone ratified the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (SC) on 26 September 2003; the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (BC) on 1 November 2016; and the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (RC) on 1 November 2016.

Sierra Leone was warmly welcomed as new a member to the BC and RC at the opening plenary session in late April 2017.

At the end of this convention member countries are expected to roll out the implementation of these conventions through Ratification and Domestication. In Sierra Leone it is expected that the EPA will take the lead in the implementation of the policy actions.

The Sierra Leone delegates included Mrs. Haddijatou Jallow (Executive Chairperson, EPA); Patrick Hassan Morlai Koroma and Idris S. Tejan (MFAIC) and Alie Jalloh (EPA).

 

 

Salone Foreign Minister Presents Five Ambassadors to President Koroma

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Samura M.W. Kamara accompanied by the Director General and Senior Management staff of the Ministry, today (14 July 2017) facilitated the presentation of Letters of Credence for five Ambassadors Designate to the Republic of Sierra Leone, to His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma at a colourful ceremony held at State House in Freetown.

Dr. Samura Kamara, in separate occasions, introduced the five foreign envoys to His Excellency the President, Cabinet Ministers and other senior Government officials present at the ceremony.

The Five Ambassadors Designate include: Feni Kouakou of the Republic of La Cote D’Ivoire with residence in Liberia; Mrs. Anna Semou Faye of the Republic of Senegal with residence in Guinea; Mr. Driss Isbayene of the Kingdom of Morocco with residence in Guinea; Mr. Mohamed Salam Alrashdi of the United Arab Emirates resident in Senegal; and Mr. Mansyur Pangeran of the Republic of Indonesia with residence in Senegal.

The five foreign envoys designate accredited to the Republic of Sierra Leone, in their respective speeches during the presentation of their letters of Credence, extended their warmest fraternal greetings of their leaders to President Koroma and the people of Sierra Leone. The foreign envoys expressed their desires in deepening and strengthening the existing bilateral relations between the Republic of Sierra Leone and their respective countries, through increased technical cooperation in various sectors such as; economic, trade, agriculture, education, strategic industries, and also people to people contact.

President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in his response speech upon receipt of the Letters of Credence from the five Ambassadors designate at separate intervals, stated that, it was with pleasure he accepted the letters of credence and welcomed them as Ambassadors of their respective countries to Republic of Sierra Leone.

President Koroma described the relations between the Republic of Sierra Leone and the five countries as fruitful cooperation and very close; noting that it has helped to lay a solid foundation for mutual cooperation and understanding. He called on the Ambassadors of the five countries as members of the United Nations, AU, ECOWAS, OIC, etc. to strive to enhance the work of these organisations, which play a major role not only in promoting the progress of the African continent, but also in the furtherance of International peace and security. He further requested the Envoys to promote and advance Africa’s common position as articulated in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, which seek to ensure the reconfiguration/reform of the UN Security Council. ‘We are encouraged by your Governments’ desires to further enhance bilateral relations with Sierra Leone in agriculture, mining, education, technical cooperation and industry, which have been identified as major priorities in my second term in office’, Presided Koroma concluded.

Mrs. Anna Semou Faye of the Republic of Senegal

Mr. Driss Isbayene of the Kingdom of Morocco

Mr. Mohamed Salam Alrashdi of the United Arab Emirates

Mr. Mansyur Pangeran of the Republic of Indonesia

 

PRESIDENT KOROMA LAUNCHES FIRST EVER FOREIGN SERVICE MAGAZINE

His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has officially launched the maiden edition of the Leone Diplomat Magazine as well as the first ever Directory of Sierra Leone’s Foreign Missions and Consulates at a ceremony held at State House in Freetown during a Forum for Diplomatic and Consular Relations.

The aim of the Leone Diplomat Magazine, President Koroma stated, is to further strengthen collaboration and interactions with the global society.

In his address on the theme, ‘The President’s Foreign Policy Statement 2017’, President Koroma stated that his government remained committed to the country’s broad foreign policy ideals of promoting national interest, sub-regional, regional and inter-African cooperation and unity; and for the consolidation of international peace and security. ‘We support the settlement of international disputes by negotiation, conciliation, arbitration and adjudication’, President Koroma added.

President Koroma condemned acts of terrorism, radicalism, extremism, racism, ethnic, and religious persecution, and encouraged sustained international engagement for a just and peaceful resolution of issues within, between and among countries.

He appealed to members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps to muster their energies to actions that support inclusiveness, and also, the eradication of poverty in developing countries and in the world at large as envisioned by the Sustainable Development Goals.

In his opening remarks, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Samura  M.W. Kamara explained that this annual leg of the collective interaction between His Excellency the President and Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Consuls accredited to Sierra Leone provides an important and productive occasion to discuss the practical challenges and opportunities involved in their diplomatic and consular relations. ‘It is also a forum meant to facilitate the President’s closer interaction with the Diplomatic and Consular Corps’, he added.

Under President Koroma’s leadership and guidance, the Minister disclosed, Sierra Leone is transforming and refining the country’s international relations noting that the country is now pursuing a more focused, rigorous, result-oriented and pro-active approach to diplomatic and consular relations aimed at facilitating mutually beneficial political and economic partnerships.

The Dean of Diplomatic Corps, H.E Lotfullah Balikiari, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, on behalf of his colleagues, maintained that the annual Presidential Forum for members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps serves as an encouragement, renewal of energies, and increase motivation that leaves its inspirational influence on members of the Diplomatic Community to double their continued committed efforts.

He thanked President Koroma for what he described as his silent and creative innovation that continues to manifest his wisdom, focus and good intent, which has attracted with pleasure all members of the Diplomatic Community in Sierra Leone.

It could be recalled that this is the second annual Presidential Segment of the Forum on Diplomatic and Consular Relations since its inception in 2014.

The call to order and welcome statement was delivered by the Director General and Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ambassador Khadijatu Bassir. Also present at the ceremony were Ministers of Government, Senior Government officials, and Senior Staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

 

13th July 2017.