In line with the country’s National Development Agenda, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mrs Nabeela Farida Tunis, on 22nd May 2020, disclosed to Hon. Members of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on the Ministry’s activities, the opening of three Embassies, the United Arab Emirate (UAE), Iceland and India, in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
During the opening formalities of this meeting, the Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mrs Florence N. Bangalie, expressed her appreciation to the Committee Members for scheduling such a meeting during the pandemic’s height. She further explained the functions of the various Directorates in the Ministry, followed by a comprehensive summary of the key activities undertaken within the fiscal year by the Minister, Mrs Nabeela Farida Tunis.
In her statement, she started by disclosing the advanced stage of the opening of the UAE, India and Iceland Embassy in Freetown. She also highlighted the recent activities, which included but not limited to:
- the preliminary work on the construction of the country’s Diplomatic Academy
- the development of the nation’s Foreign Service Act which is now at the Cabinet-level
- the establishment of Sierra Leone’s Missions in Morocco and France
- the coordination of 2,717 metric tons of rice from Japan on Monday 25th May 2020 to support the Government’s free quality education initiatives
Furthermore, she revealed the Ministry’s invaluable role in coordinating donations of medical assistance and equipment received from various countries during this COVID-19 pandemic. One of these included securing Cuban Doctors who are slated to arrive shortly in the country to join the Ministry of Health and the EOC.
At the multilateral front, the Minister assured Committee members of her effective engagement with the United Nations and the African Union. She intimated that she actively participated in the just concluded AU Female Foreign Affairs Ministers’ discussions which focused on stopping the spread of COVID-19 in the continent. The Minister also outlined several Agreements she has signed on behalf of the Government and People of Sierra Leone, which Parliament has ratified.
In another development, Minister Tunis informed the Hon. Members of the Parliamentary oversight Committee that she has been in consultation with other countries, including the State of Kuwait, for Sierra Leoneans’ repatriation. She maintained that the Ministry, in collaboration with the country’s Missions abroad, are working assiduously to ensure thorough screening of the verified nationals before repatriation.
Finally, Mrs Tunis elaborated a bit about her intentions in promoting the professionalism of the Ministry. She confirmed that all former Career Diplomats she has engaged with have consented to support the upward trajectory of the Ministry, especially in the training of newly recruited Administrative Officers.
Hon. Members of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee extolled the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for its tremendous strides in promoting and enhancing President Bio’s National Development Agenda with the highest premium on economic diplomacy.
More specifically, Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo thanked the Minister and her team for pursuing a comprehensive Foreign Policy objective that is in line with the National Development Agenda. He further applauded the Minister’s efforts in maintaining a high degree of professionalism in the implementation of the Ministry’s activities. He assured the Minister on behalf of the Committee of their unflinching commitment and collaboration for effective Foreign Service delivery in the country.
In closing, the Deputy Director-General Operations, Mr Duwai Lungay, acknowledged the MPs for their support in the Ministry’s development in his vote of thanks.
(MFAIC Press Office Freetown)