SEPTEMBER 25, 2014 By Alusine Sesay
Amid fear by other international partners to receive people from Ebola affected countries, the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone has differed and yesterday bade farewell to seven senior personnel of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) to pursue different military courses in China.
Addressing beneficiaries at the Chinese Embassy, Deputy Head of Mission, Fan Xiaodong, congratulated the officers and noted that though some airlines have suspended flights to Freetown because of the spread of Ebola in the country, they tried their best to book air tickets and made arrangements for the officers to travel to China.
“Such has indicated that the Chinese government showed great care for all of you, and demonstrated the cordial relationship between the people’s Liberation Army of the People’s Republic of China (PLA) and RSLAF,” Mr. Fan said.
He revealed that the Chinese President Xi Jinping was very much concerned about friends in Ebola-stricken countries and that in a bid to provide continuous support to help Sierra Leone and other such countries fight against the disease, “President Xi announced on 18 September during his visit to India that China will provide a further 200 million Yuan (equally 32.54 million USD) package of humanitarian aid, including food, supplies for disease control, emergency treatment facilities and capital support to African countries and international organizations to help contain Ebola.”
“In the package, China will provide Sierra Leone with US$1 million cash, food assistance valued at US$2 million, and mobile lab and fixed lab with testing and security equipment and 59 medical staff,” he further said.
He added that China would also provide US$2 million in cash to the African Union and the World Health Organisation respectively, to support their leading and coordinating role in fighting the epidemic.
He assured the officers that the Chinese government would cover expenses of their international round-trip tickets, food, accommodation, tuition and pocket money during their stay in China.
“I hope that you will cherish this opportunity, study hard in China and come back to serve your country and make due contribution to the development of China-Sierra Leone friendship,” he said.
He called on the military to establish an alumni association since many officers have studied in China.
Director General of the Ministry of Defence, Abdul R.M. Fofanah, expressed his profound gratitude on behalf of the ministry, noting that ex-President Siaka Stevens made no mistake in befriending China.
Fofanah noted that the relationship between the two countries goes beyond friendship and that Chinese assistance is felt everywhere in Sierra Leone.
He said the ministry has no doubt in the caliber of officers selected to participate in the training and that they would prove useful in improving military standards in Sierra Leone.
He re-echoed an appeal for the Chinese to assist the RSLAF with military equipment for use in peacekeeping.
One of the departing officers, Colonel Sullay Ibrahim Sesay, thanked the Chinese government for such a gesture, noting that China is felt everywhere in Sierra Leone, citing the Cockerill military headquarters as one among many edifices to have been constructed by the Chinese government.