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COCORIOKO » 2015 » November

Archive for November, 2015

They are ruining sports in Sierra Leone

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

clowns

In the good, old days of Sierra Leone football, at a time like this we would have been enjoying the F.A. Cup and other knockout competitions —The Association, Chellaram and UN cups. We would have had the League Champions.

Everything was so structured . Early May, the season starts with the traditional EAST VS. WEST soccer clash. Then the league season starts. Matches on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday. Later, Sunday was added. Double-headers on Saturday and Sunday.

The fixtures were made in such a way that the last game of the season was between the old rivals, Mighty Blackpool and East End Lions and we did see some memorable epic matches from them, like James Barnet’s wonderful free kick in injury time for Blackpool that denied Lions the Championship in a classic 3-3 draw ( 1967) or that September 4, Blackpool 4 masterpiece in 1964.

After the Championships, we went straight to the knockouts which were the territories for the giant-killers Old Edwardians, Regents Olympic, Caxton ( The Printing Department team ) , Kingtom Rovers and Prisons Games Club . We enjoyed the knockout competitions alongside Christmas. The F.A. Cup final, which ended the season was many times in early January.
After soccer, it was athletics and cricket season in Sierra Leone. We had the many inter-house athletics competitions and then the Western Area Athletics Championships followed by the SLAAA ( Sierra Leone Amateur Athletics Association ) meetings at Recre . Cricket too was so interesting with teams like Richmond, POW, Nondescript, Old Edwardians , Middleton , etc.

We also used to have friendly international matches between Sierra Leone and Liberia ( which were always chaotic ), Gambia, Nigeria and Guinea. Teams like Hafia, Horoya, Gbessia, ASFAG ( the Army team ) from Guinea and Barrolle, Bame, St. Joseph’s Warriors and IE from Liberia used to come to play in Freetown.

Today, we have taken sports to the dogs. Every now and again, the minister is involved in threats and cussing matches with officials and lockouts and lockdowns are the order of the day.The Government may have good intentions but these will only be realized if our officials stop the infighting and work together.

No wonder our youths are restive. They do not have extracurricular activities as we had . And that is why they have become politicized because all they see is politics. No sports.

Mamamah International Airport will be an economic game- changer in Sierra Leone

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

By KABS KANU

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The economic benefits of the new Mammamah International Airport will be immense.

I do not think that President Ernest Koroma wants to burden us with debt. Detractors of the President who do not want him to leave any successful and enduring legacy that will make him the household word in Sierra Leone forever because of the benefits it will bring the nation are the ones busy trumping up unnecessary scepticism and negativity about the project. What President Koroma  wants to do is to unlock the economic potentials of our country and he believes that the Mamammah Airport has the key. That is why he has made Mammamah one of his flagship programs.

1. The Mamammah Airport will make traveling to Sierra Leone more consummate and safe and this will attract tourism . If we boost tourism in Sierra Leone, you are looking at an industry that will spin millions of dollars a year and provide abundant employment opportunities.

2. The Airport will open new opportunities for business and commerce and will help to expand and revitalize the private sector

3. The Airport will stimulate the setting up of private sector-airport related businesses like hotels , restaurants,public warehousing, travel agencies, taxi and limo services and this will open abundant employment and business opportunities for Sierra Leoneans, if only we will decide to ditch our colonial mentality and obsession with the “Mr. Cole” or “Mr. Johnson” necktie -over -smart- business suit  office jobs.

4. Sierra Leoneans who are enterprising and business -savvy will be challenged to set up service sector businesses like duty free shops, restaurants, travel agencies, warehouses, shipping and freight services , car rentals, computer data processing etc. How I wish we had the mindset of the Nigerians . This is the kind of project for which Nigerians will put on their dancing shoes because their business acumen will help them reap benefits from it. The average Sierra Leonean is lazy and he is not inventive . What others will see as a blessing is therefore something for Sierra Leoneans to cry down because the wise men of the West,  whom they believe  know everything,   say that  it is not good for us.

It is a shame that even though the President of China, H.E. xi Jingping , in his meeting with President Koroma , never mentioned that his country’s help to construct the airport will be at the expense of a $ 315 million debt, some mischievous Sierra Leoneans opposed to this government are still using the old estimates to malign President Koroma that he wants to overburden the country with a heavy debt for the project.

 

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In an eye-opening paper entitled “AIRPORT AREA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MODEL” , the writers Glen Weisburd, John Reed and Roanne M. Neuwirth postulate that ” As business markets become national and international in scale, airports are increasingly being viewed as catalysts for local economic development. Their ability to generate jobs and attract new business is being used in many locations as a justification for public investments in new airport construction and expansion. ”

Additional empirical studies of U.S airports by the authors have shown that employment growth within 6 kilometers of airports can be two to five times faster than the suburban ring of the metropolitan area in which they are located.

Though we trust and respect the IMF and World Bank, it is also a fact that some of their economic advice and solutions in the past have not always been the best for countries, especially those in the Third World . Though I do not agree with everything he writes, Mr. Mohamed Allie Jalloh , commonly known as MOHM ALLIE , who is an economist, has a paper out that he circulates often that highlights how the Bretton Woods institutions often miss the mark in their economic advice to struggling African nations . I do not want to dwell on the paper because this article is not about the IMF and the World Bank anyway.

Also, everything in this write-up is my  own private opinion. It is not the opinion of the Government for which I work. It is my personal opinion as a journalist .

The Mamammah International Airport project is not a vainglorious enterprise by President Ernest Koroma. It is rather the economic game-changer that every Sierra Leonean will benefit from if we look at the benefits.

MORE COMING .

A Post-Ebola Plan for Sierra Leone : We need reforms that will help us recover from this crisis and boost our resiliency against the next

Friday, November 27th, 2015

A Post-Ebola Plan for Sierra Leone

We need reforms that will help us recover from this crisis and boost our resiliency against the next.

By Ernest Bai Koroma

Nov. 26, 2015 4:06 p.m. ET

Earlier this month, Sierra Leone was finally declared free of Ebola. The celebrations in Freetown and across the country were jubilant, but our victory was bittersweet. So many of our brothers and sisters lost their lives fighting this evil virus. Families were broken. Children were orphaned. Our communities were plagued by fear and the hopelessness that the situation may never improve.

Today, our understanding of what is needed for our country to recover is clearer than ever. The devastation caused by Ebola was symptomatic of wider problems. My government is not only focusing on rebuilding Sierra Leone but also on pre-empting future disasters. We are confident we will come back stronger than ever.

 

PRESIDENT KOROMA 13

 

Before the outbreak, our nation was on the verge of its greatest economic breakthrough. We were in the middle of significant infrastructure development. We were being hailed for sustaining our peace, strengthening our economic and structural reforms, the freedom of our press, and bringing more youths and women into high-level employment. The Ebola outbreak halted progress in many of these areas.

The past 18 months have taught us many hard lessons. We have learned that our public services and infrastructure require a complete overhaul. The outbreak put a severe strain on our public services. Our health service was forced to neglect other diseases, such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis.

Meanwhile, school closures and quarantine measures deprived our children of their education. Teen pregnancies and sexual violence increased as girls fell victim to abuses from which they would otherwise have been protected. Basic public services cannot be expendable during times of crisis.

Sierra Leone’s infrastructure challenges predate Ebola, but inconsistent access to electricity, information and communications technology, and water and sanitation, exacerbated the problem. Poor roads and limited forms of transportation thwarted a more robust response to the disease.

We also learned that our political systems and community organizations need to collaborate better. Public skepticism of government hindered the national response early on as warnings, guidance and advice went unheeded. My government has renewed its commitment to good governance and reforming its institutions so that people might trust their political system and their representatives once again.

Underpinning everything is economic reform. Over the past 18 months our economy has battled two shocks: the Ebola epidemic and the collapse of iron ore prices. We must energetically pursue economic diversification so that we are less dependent on minerals, and we must review how we manage our mineral wealth. We also need to encourage our countrymen to pursue sustainable, local businessopportunities to develop a healthy private sector and not rely so heavily on foreign aid.

The fear of Ebola understandably discouraged foreign investment, but with a renewed commitment to reform and sustained investment in infrastructure and public services, we will capitalize on our natural resources for the prosperity of the country and the benefit of investors.

Our future success also depends on how we work with the international community. Enhanced regional cooperation with our neighbors in Guinea, Ivory Coast and Liberia will be essential.

Support from international organizations and donor nations will be equally important. But this also necessitates change on their part. Ebola not only highlighted weaknesses in West African nations but also in the World Health Organization, the United Nations, aid agencies and other national governments.

The crisis must serve as a wake-up call that reform of the WHO, whose bloated bureaucracy cost many lives, is long overdue. Similarly, a change to the outdated composition of the U.N. Security Council, on which no African nation is represented, is essential.

With these challenges in mind, I have an ambitious six-point plan for a better Sierra Leone:

• Instigate governance and system reform. Ebola caused socio-economic devastation, but the systems developed under this pressure serve as powerful examples of how to improve. These changes will stamp out corruption and encourage transparency for sustainable, Sierra Leonean-led development.

• Promote social cohesion, education and community mobilization. We need to develop programs and awareness campaigns that reinforce the reforms, working toward gaining the trust of the Sierra Leone people, increasing the legitimacy of government and harnessing the untapped human capital that will be a major safeguard against future crisis. We must therefore improve access to education, develop school food programs and reduce overcrowding in schools.

• Develop Sierra Leone’s private economy. We must nurture the growth of a healthy private sector by investing in skills, making support available to small- and medium-size enterprises, improving access to financial services, encouraging business that isn’t dependent on aid financing and supplies the local market, so that it can be sustainable and grow.

• Drive economic diversification. We must encourage the growth of industries other than mining, such as agriculture, so the economy is less vulnerable to external shocks.

• Invest in national infrastructure. We must build better roads, improve our airport and develop our port. We must also provide better access to electricity and power generation.

• Encourage foreign investment. We need to communicate to the international community that Sierra Leone is open for business and end the stigma attached to Ebola while mapping investment opportunities and actively promoting these to potential investors.

***

I am immensely proud of the resilience of my country. We have not only survived a decade-long civil war but have defeated one of the worst public-health crises the modern world has seen. The strength of the Sierra Leonean people should compel faith from the international community that we are ready, willing and able to seize the opportunities that have emerged from the devastation of Ebola.

Mr. Koroma is the president of Sierra Leone.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-post-ebola-plan-for-sierra-leone-1448571965

ACP Council of Ministers conference ends in Brussels

Friday, November 27th, 2015
The 102nd session of the Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States has ended in Brussels with the full participation of Sierra Leone delegation headed by the Minister of State, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Alhaji F.B.L. Mansaray. He was accompanied throughout the session (23-25 November) by Ambassador Ibrahim Sorie, Madam Amy Bintu Myers from the National Authorising Office and Esther Sesay, the Policy Analyst in the Finance Ministry.
ACP ENDS 1
The session brought together officials from 79 ACP countries who took decisions on key development issues, as well as institutional matters involving the future of the organisation.
Chaired by the Minister of Finance from the Kingdom of Lesotho, Dr. Mamphono Khaketla, the Council welcomed the Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, as keynote speaker at the opening ceremony on Tuesday 24th November at the ACP House.
“This Council session takes place at a very critical time, in the midst of major global summits on trade, climate change, and other essential aspects related to development. Moreover, the ACP Group of countries is at a juncture where we must ask fundamental, existential questions about how the organisation can contribute in an effective way that impacts on our peoples’ lives, in light of all the global challenges we face today,” said ACP Secretary General H.E Dr. Patrick I. Gomes. “It is essential to engage strategically during this period.”
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Aside from approving the 2016 budget for the ACP Secretariat, the Council also took major decisions including those on the 8th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government, outlooks on the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP21, the WTO Ministerial conference in Nairobi, amongst others.
Ministers also held deliberations on the ACP Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) Forum, and the future of ACP-EU relations.
ACP ENDS 3


The Council further approved the offer by the Government of Papua New Guinea to host the 8th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government on 30 May – 1 June 2016, as well as approve the theme of the Summit with the head of the Sierra Leone delegation, Hon. Alhaji FBL Mansaray appealing to Council members for representation at the highest level of government at that Summit in Papua New Guinea.
The ACP Group of States has been in existence since 1975, working primarily with the European Community (later the European Union) in dealing with trade, development cooperation (via the European Development Fund) and political dialogue between EU and ACP countries. As the current partnership with Europe comes to a close in 2020, both sides are reflecting on the nature of the cooperation in the future, particularly in view of new development challenges of the 21st century, geopolitical shifts, and the post-2015 development agenda.


The amount available in the framework of the 11th European Development Fund (2014-2020) for ACP countries is approximately €31.5 billion. Of this, €3.59 billion is allocated for the Intra-ACP envelope, which supports intra-ACP and inter-regional cooperation, finances the joint institutions and bodies, and assists with running the ACP Secretariat. 

After two years of processing, the ACP-EU Intra-ACP Strategy Paper was officially signed on the 26th November, in the margins of the 102nd session of the ACP Council of Ministers. The main programming areas under the Intra-ACP envelope include human and social development (€1.165 billion); climate change, resilience building, and the environment (€475 million); support for private sector development and investment (€600 million) and the African Peace Facility (€900 million), with a further €215 million for institutional support.
 
By Chernor Ojuku Sesay,
Information Attaché,
Sierra Leone Embassy,
Brussels/ EU
 
Notes on pics:
1. Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama
2. Head of Sierra Leone delegation, Hon. Alhaji FBL Mansaray
3. Ambassador Sorie and Mrs Amy Bintu Myers

 

UNICEF & USAID Boost Post-Ebola Recovery withDistribution of Free Health Care Essential Medicines and Supplies

Friday, November 27th, 2015

FREETOWN, November 2015, Sierra Leone’s international partners remain committed to building a strong health system. A new distribution of Free Health Care essential medicines and supplies will start this month to re-supply health centers across the country.

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Around 170 tons of essential medicines and supplies worth an estimated $1.2 million have been procured and airlifted into the country by UNICEF with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Along with other life-saving medicines and supplies already in Government warehouses in Freetown, some procured by the Government and some by UNICEF with financial support from UK DFID and the European Union, health facilities will be resupplied before the end of the year to ensure pregnant and lactating women and children under 5 continue to benefit from the free essential medicines and supplies. “With the official end of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, now is the right time to be investing in basic health services to help the country bounce back, particularly those that seek to reduce the extremely high levels of infant and child mortality,” said USAID Mission Director for Guinea and Sierra Leone, Ms. Michelle Godette.

“The Ebola emergency saw massive investment in promoting government health systems, and we need to ensure that essential medicines and supplies are available even in the most remote Peripheral Health Units.” On 7 November 2015, the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone was declared officially over by WHO, though the country remains vigilant for new cases, especially given the on-going outbreak in neighboring Guinea and new recent cases in Liberia.

The Free Health Care initiative, launched in 2010 by HE President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, targets life-threatening diseases among children under 5 such as malaria, diarrhea, and acute respiratory infections. “We are grateful for this type of support from our development partners. Now the Ebola outbreak is over, we need to concentrate on ending the thousands of unnecessary child deaths each year,” said Dr Abu Bakarr Fofanah, Minister of Health and Sanitation. The recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) saw governments pledge to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births.

Sierra Leone has one of the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality in the world with a maternal mortality ratio of 1,165 per 100,000 live births and under five mortality at 156 per 1,000 live births. “We believe the Free Health Care initiative is a key strategy for reducing infant and child deaths in Sierra Leone, something that remains an absolute priority for the Government and partners,” said Geoff Wiffin, UNICEF Representative to Sierra Leone. ### About USAID We partner to end extreme poverty and to promote resilient, democratic societies while advancing our security and prosperity.

For more information on USAID and its work visit: www.usaid.gov Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/USAID-SierraLeone/ About UNICEF UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org Follow us on Twitter and Facebook For more information, please contact: UNICEF Issa Davies, UNICEF Sierra Leone, idavies@unicef.org, Tel: + (232) 76 601 310 John James, UNICEF Sierra Leone, jjames@unicef.org, Tel + (232) 76 102 401 USAID Christine Sheckler, USAID Sierra Leone, csheckler@usaid.gov, Tel: + (232) 99 905 155 Everett Torrence, USAID Sierra Leone, etorrence@usaid.gov, Tel: + (232) 99 905 053

Director of Diaspora Affairs meets with African Union Diaspora Directorate

Friday, November 27th, 2015

 

 

The Director of Citizens and Diaspora Directorate of the African Union Commission, Dr. Jinmi Adisa on Wednesday 25th November, 2015 received in audience the Director of Diaspora Affairs in the Office of the President, Mr. Kallay Musa Conteh at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa.

 

Addressing his counterpart, Mr. Conteh briefed the meeting on the purpose of his visit in Ethiopia. He recalled that his office was established in 2008 by His Excellency, the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to provide Diaspora network support for Sierra Leoneans living abroad.

Dr. Adisa (L) and Mr. Conteh

Dr. Adisa (L) and Mr. Conteh (1).JPG

“I am here to seek first hand information on the African Union policy framework on Diaspora issues and to further share best practices on how to promote Sierra Leone’s Diaspora involvement in the socio-economic development of the country,” he said.

 

The Director of Diaspora Affairs further informed that there are about one million Sierra Leoneans living overseas mainly in the United Kingdom and the United States of America with vast capacities in various fields.

Mr. Conteh (M) sorrounded by staff memebrs of the African Unoin Commission

Mr. Conteh (M) sorrounded by staff memebrs of the African Unoin Commission (1).JPG

Responding, the Director of Citizens and Diaspora Directorate at the African Union Commission, Dr. Jinmi Adisa said that his office had helped the Malawian and Liberian Governments to set up their Diaspora offices recently.

 

Dr. Adisa noted that the Commission is working on five legacy projects and that they want Africans living in the Diaspora to contribute meaningfully towards the Continent’s transformation agenda.

 

He informed his counterpart that his Department will be organizing a workshop next year relating to the empowerment of Diaspora institutions in Member States.

 

In another engagement, Mr. Conteh held a meeting at the Ethiopian Central Bank with the bank’s Senior Advisor on Monetary Stability Cluster, Mr. Elaias Loha and the Director of Foreign Exchange Monitoring and Reserve, Madam Yenehasab Tadesse.

 

The issues discussed were mainly centred on how Sierra Leone can emulate the Ethiopian foreign remittance system, banking and investment opportunities available for those living in the Diaspora.

 

Abdul Karim Koroma

Information Attaché

Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone

Addis Ababa

Ethiopia

Email: akk23222@gmail.com

 

Sierra Leone delegation commends ACP Group of States for Ebola support

Friday, November 27th, 2015
Head of the Sierra Leone delegation to this year’s 102nd Council of Ministers meeting of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), who is also the country’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Alhaji FBL Mansaray has commended the, “extraordinary assistance of the international community and other development partners such as the ACP Group of States”, for their roles in helping Sierra Leone to conquer the Ebola war.
ACB 1
 Minister of State, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Alhaji FBL Mansaray at the ACP Hq.
Addressing the Council of Ministers and their representatives from all the 79 Member States at the ACP headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, 25th November, 2015, Hon. Mansaray officially informed the Member States that the World Health Organisation had declared Sierra Leone Ebola free on, 7th November after the country had gone for forty-two days without registering any case of Ebola. This news was greeted with rapturous applaud from members, urging the President of the Council of Ministers and Chairlady of the occasion, Lesotho’s Minister of Finance, Hon. Dr. Mamphono Khaketla to remark, “at last we have something positive to report on after all that has happened recently”.
ACB 2
 Hon. Ambassador  Ibrahim Sorie and Mrs Amy Myers, Deputy National Authorising Officer
Hon. Mansaray, accompanied by Ambassador Ibrahim Sorie and the delegation from Freetown comprising Mrs Amy Bintu Myers (Deputy National Authorising Officer) and Mrs Esther Sesay (Policy Analyst in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development) reported that a total of 8,704 people were infected with the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. “Of this number 4,051 survived whilst 3,589 people died of the disease, 221 of whom were healthcare workers, including 11 doctors”.
ACB 3
Mrs Amy Myers and Mrs Esther Sesay
The Minister of State however, furthered that, even though the country has been officially declared Ebola free, the government and people of Sierra Leone are strictly observing the WHO recommendation for the continuation of enhanced surveillance for the next 90 days.
He further informed his audience that, His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has already commenced discussions with the leadership of the Parliament of Sierra Leone to end the State of Emergency which was declared over a year ago in a bid to eradicate the Ebola virus in the country.
He informed the Council of Ministers about the start of the implementation process by the government of the post-Ebola economic recovery programme with priorities on health, education, social protection, energy, water, agriculture etc. So far, according to Minister Mansaray, over the past four months, government has supported more than 30,000 vulnerable households with cash transfers, paid school fees for more than 1.1 million children returning to school, supported farming households with seeds and fertilizers and provided support packages to Ebola survivors, orphans and widows.
In a related development, the ACP Group of States through its Secretary General, Dr. Patrick I. Gomes has in a letter dated 12thNovember, 2015, sent to the government of Sierra Leone through its Embassy in Brussels, congratulated the government and people of Sierra Leone for having been declared Ebola free by the World Health Organisation.
The letter further reaffirms the ACP Group’s “solidarity with the people of the Republic of Sierra Leone in their efforts to consolidate the gains made with the existing national systems to manage future risks, as well as in their progress to social and economic recovery, and will continue to give special attention to the enhancing of health systems in ACP Member states as part of its 11th EDF Intra-ACP Development Cooperation Programmes”.
Notes on pics:
1. Minister of State, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Alhaji FBL Mansaray at the ACP Hq.
2. Hon. Ambassador  Ibrahim Sorie and Mrs Amy Myers, Deputy National Authorising Officer
3. Mrs Amy Myers and Mrs Esther Sesay
By Chernor Ojuku Sesay,
Information Attachè,
Embassy of Sierra Leone,
Brussels/EU

Sierra Leone Embassy in Kuwait Debunks Social Media Reports on House Maids

Friday, November 27th, 2015

 

 

Compiled by M.B. Jalloh, Press Attaché, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States

 

In reference to testimonies given by Cameroonian returnee housemaids posted recently on the Social Media, and a subsequent recording posted by a concerned Sierra Leonean migrant worker domiciled in Kuwait on the plight of Sierra Leonean housemaids in Kuwait, the Embassy of Sierra Leone in the Gulf State of Kuwait headed by H.E Ambassador Bakarr Kamara would like to make the following clarifications for the records:

Ambassador Ibrahim Bakarr Kamara

Sierra Leonean housemaids working in Kuwait were recruited by agents approved by the Ministry of Labour of Sierra Leone with absolutely no knowledge of their presence by the Embassy of Sierra Leone in Kuwait.

 

Upon their arrival at the airport in Kuwait, they were received by the counterpart local recruiting agents and taken to their respective offices that would get them distributed to interested employers without a reference to this Embassy. Once taken to their employers, they become incommunicado where they will have to permanently stay within the confines of their new workplaces.

 

The Embassy would come only to know about their presence when they escape after discovering that they had been lured into servitude and solitary confinement by their recruiting agents in Sierra Leone who deceptively and extortionately designed their journey as all rosy and cozy. That is the time they would come seeking shelter and refuge at the Embassy.

 

The Chancery had oftentimes been inundated with an influx of ‘runaway’ maids and accommodating such a large number posed an uphill task and a challenge to the Embassy. The Kuwait Government had to provide a decent shelter with modern facilities for the runaway maids, pending negotiations with their masters for their release and eventual repatriation to Sierra Leone for those maids who chose to return home. So far, a total of 63 house maids have been repatriated, some at the cost of the Embassy and or the Ambassador and Diplomatic staff.

 

On the other hand, there are Sierra Leonean housemaids still working on their volition in Kuwaiti households, and it is a fact that some were being subjected to a life of servitude. But with the intervention of the Embassy, this attitude by some ‘Kafils’or Masters has been mitigated.

 

However, there are also housemaids who absconded but chose to stay on their own in rented apartments, surreptitiously working in restaurants, factories and private clinics. Even with this category of maids, the Embassy monitors their activities and provides counselling as and when required to do so.

 

According to the Labour Laws of Kuwait, absconding from your ‘Kafil’ or Master is punishable by deportation without trial. All those absconding Sierra Leonean housemaids caught by the police were deported purely for absconding. No Sierra Leonean housemaid has been deported for prostitution.

 

Mr. Thullah, the author of the post on social media on the status of Sierra Leonean housemaids in Kuwait is a regular visitor of the Embassy. He has never discussed this observation with the Embassy staff during his many visits. The Embassy therefore, does not deem his intention as genuine; and the manner in which he dramatized the matter by depicting the housemaids as sex objects is absolutely INCORRECT and MISLEADING.

 

The plight of Cameroonian house maids in Kuwait cannot be compared with those from Sierra Leone. Cameroon has got no resident Embassy in Kuwait for recourse by housemaids from that country. This situation, therefore, renders them susceptible to being hurt by some wicked ‘Kafils’ (Masters) with impunity.

 

The Sierra Leonean public should therefore not be swayed by testimonies from Cameroonian returnee housemaids. The Embassy has facilitated the voluntary repatriation of sixty of our compatriots. Seek to hear the testimonies of these returnees. For those that are still in Kuwait, they can be reached by phone, WhatsApp and IMO.

 

In conclusion, the Sierra Leone Mission in Kuwait wishes it to be known that it has largely succeeded in addressing the problems created by the multitude of rogue recruiting agencies in Sierra Leone, and now on top of the situation. All Sierra Leonean housemaids in the data base of this Embassy are safe.

 

It should be recalled in June of this year, there was a Press Release from the Sierra Leone Union in Kuwait in which the President of the Union, Sannussie Jalloh, out rightly condemned the media report in which the Sierra Leone Embassy in Kuwait was alleged to be part of the recruitment of housemaids from Sierra Leone. Based on that fallacious report, the Union immediately called on the Government of Sierra Leone to effectively ban the recruitment of housemaids in Sierra Leone and bring those local recruiting agents to book.

 

“We read with great disgust and dissatisfaction the article making the rounds on social media accusing His Excellency, Ambassador Ibrahim Bakarr Kamara as part of the syndicate of trafficking female Sierra Leonean teenagers as sex slaves to Kuwait,” the release stated.

 

Sierra Leone and Kuwait have had diplomatic relations since the 80s and these relations have been growing stronger and stronger. In fact Sierra Leone along Senegal and Niger, were the only West African countries that contributed troops to the allied forces that liberated Kuwait after the invasion of Iraq in 1990. Kuwait has come to the aid of Sierra Leone on a number of times over the years. Thus, it would be ludicrous and unthinkable to allow the issue of housemaids to negatively affect these well-established relations.

 

What is at stake here is not only the sisters and vicious rumours being spread and mounted against the Embassy of Sierra Leone in Kuwait; rather, the greater concern here is that such smearing of the reputation of Kuwait may affect the already cordial bilateral existing diplomatic relations between the State of Kuwait and the Republic of Sierra Leone.

 

As I write, there are hundreds of Sierra Leoneans residing and working in the State of Kuwait, and some of them are gainfully employed. Speaking to me last night in a telephone interview, a Sierra Leonean –British Professor of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Qatar University suggested that: “There is every need for the Government of Sierra Leone to put a definitive halt to these unscrupulous local recruiting agencies whose only concern is to enrich themselves out of the miseries of their compatriots.”

 

What is more appalling and disappointing, Professor Abdul Razack Lavallie said, is when one realizes or comes to know that the most heartless and most notorious amongst the local recruiting agents perpetrating these malpractices against the Sierra Leonean sisters were people who lived long in the Middle East in general and in the Gulf States in particular.

 

“So, they are quite aware of the inhumane treatment meted out to housemaids in some of those countries. A stronger suggestion is to bring those local recruiting agents to book.”

 

He reiterated that Government needs to make thorough investigations into their dubious and fraudulent earnings to find out the sources of their income. And a stronger suggestion, Professor Lavalie continued, may be for Government to interrogate some of those housemaids who were repatriated to Sierra Leone by either the Embassy or the Kuwaiti Government in order to have details of the ordeal they were subjected to go through and how they got to Kuwait.

 

Such information, the Professor believes, would definitely warrant the arrest of some of those recruiting agents, and those found guilty must have a penalty to pay and some reimbursements to make as well.

 

“Perhaps it would be advisable for the Government of Sierra Leone, particularly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation to issue a press release to condemn in the strongest terms escalators and exponents of these baseless rumours in the social media or elsewhere in order to make Government’s position clear in relation to the smearing campaign going on by individuals with some dastardly ulterior motives,” said the Professor.

 

This, he concluded, should be done as soon as possible because a realization must be made that the social media is wide open and is accessible to everyone today.

Press Release: Child brides in Africa could more than double to 310 million by 2050 – UNICEF

Friday, November 27th, 2015
NEW YORK/LUSAKA, 26 November 2015 – If current levels persist, the total number of child brides in Africa will rise from 125 million to 310 million by 2050, according to a UNICEF report released at the African Union Girls Summit in Lusaka, Zambia, today.

UNICEF’s statistical report, A Profile of Child Marriage in Africa, points to slow rates of reduction, combined with rapid population growth, as major causes for the projected increase. In all other regions of the world, current rates of reduction and demographic trends mean there will be fewer child brides each year. By 2050 Africa will surpass South Asia as the region with the highest number of women aged 20 to 24 who were married as children.

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“Child marriage generates norms that have become increasingly difficult to exterminate – norms that undermine the value of our women,” said Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosozana Dlamini Zuma. “Through greater awareness, teamed with a collaborative approach, the crippling effects of child marriage can be eradicated.”

Across Africa, the percentage of young women who were married as children has dropped from 44 per cent in 1990 to 34 per cent today. Because Africa’s total population of girls is expected to rise from 275 million today to 465 million by 2050, far more ambitious action is needed – as even a doubling of the current rate of reduction in child marriages will still mean an increase in the number of child brides.

Progress has also been deeply inequitable: The likelihood that a girl from the poorest quintile would be married as a child is as strong today as it was 25 years ago.

When children get married, their prospects for a healthy, successful life decline drastically, often setting off an intergenerational cycle of poverty. Child brides are less likely to finish school, more likely to be victims of violence and become infected with HIV. Children born to teenage mothers have a higher risk of being stillborn, dying soon after birth and having low birth weight. Child brides often lack the skills needed for employment.

The African Union launched a continent-wide campaign to End Child Marriage last May. This was followed with an action plan for governments to reduce child marriage rates by increasing girls’ access to birth registration, quality education and reproductive health services; as well as strengthening and enforcing laws and policies that protect girls’ rights and prohibit marriage before 18.

“The sheer number of girls affected — and what this means in terms of lost childhoods and shattered futures — underline the urgency of banning the practice of child marriage once and for all,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “The data is also clear that ending child marriage requires a much sharper focus on reaching the poorest and most marginalized girls — those in greatest need and at greatest risk — with quality education and a host of other protective services. Their lives, and the futures of their communities, are at stake. Each child bride is an individual tragedy. An increase in their number is intolerable.”

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About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For further information, please contact:
Patricia Nakell, UNICEF in Zambia +27 79 4955938 pnakell@unicef.org
Melanie Sharpe, UNICEF New York, + 1 917 251 7670, msharpe@unicef.org
Laurent Duvillier, UNICEF in Dakar, + 221 77 740 35 77, lduvillier@unicef.org
Patrick Slavin, UNICEF in Zambia, + 260 97 777 0616, pslavin@unicef.org

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President Koroma advises Southerners to continue to follow precautions against Ebola

Friday, November 27th, 2015
CHIEF MOBILIZERThe president  has urged the people of Bo to continue with enhanced surveillance activities and remain vigilant.President Koroma also warned health workers to continue to use protective gears, maintaining health protocols and be disciplined against the virus. He emphasized that Sierra Leoneans must continue to call 117 and report all deaths to ensure that the virus does not resurface.

The president stated that the Ebola outbreak taught Sierra Leoneans to be united and work collectively towards the development of the nation adding, that the momentum and efforts used in ending the outbreak must be replicated in the implementation of post-Ebola recovery programmes.

President Koroma encouraged survivors to abstain from unsafe sexual activities and go for regular testing for any trace of the virus in their bodies

Moving forward, the Chief Social Mobilizer explained the benefits in the recovery programmes and informed that the 24 months phase of the recovery will increase access to energy and water supply to districts and chiefdoms, and admonished the public to work together in monitoring the implementation of recovery programmes.

As part of his fact finding mission to monitor the implementation of post-Ebola recovery programmes across the country, President Koroma made a well conducted tour of the Ebola Care Centre in the Southern Provincial city of Bo. The centre has catered for over 1000 survivors. Its facilities include a mental health recreation room, psychosocial office, clinic, dining room and a 25 bed capacity.

At the centre, he assured survivors of government’s continued support to providing them with free health care and other livelihood packages to return their lives to normalcy.

The president also made a stop over at the Njala University Experimental Teaching Practice School to monitor the special training for school girls who had got pregnant during the Ebola outbreak.

He motivated the pregnant and lactating girls to pay attention to their school work and remain committed to their studies, stating that the objective of the training is to re-engage them with normal school work. “All is not lost and there is still hope, life does not end with your pregnancy and don’t be distracted with your temporal circumstances,” he encouraged the girls.