March 11, 2019
By Joseph S. Margai
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Alie Kabba, has expressed optimism that he would address the challenges faced by Sierra Leoneans, while transiting through Paris to Freetown.
Passengers who are transiting through Paris to Sierra Leone are being asked to produce a transit visa and are sometimes forced to return home, if they fail to do so.
Such embarrassment, which many Afro-rights activists have described as discrimination, humiliation, and violation of human rights, has created serious embarrassment for Sierra Leonean passengers transiting through Paris.
Speaking during the usual government press briefing at the conference room of the Ministry of Information and Communications last Thursday (7th March, 2019), Minister Kabba said the issue of transit visa was becoming a thorn in the flesh for travellers.
The foreign affairs minister said his administration was working with his French counterpart to address the issue of Schengen visa that would allow holders to traverse the Schengen area comprising 26 European countries.
“We are planning to establish a High Commission in France. Hopefully, we will make a breakthrough with regards the issue of a transit visa. We want to find a means for passengers coming to Sierra Leone through Paris to travel with ease,” he said.
Minister Kabba disclosed that funds have been secured for the construction of the first Foreign Service Academy, where Sierra Leoneans on foreign missions would be trained on foreign diplomacy.
He said prior to the advent of the ‘New Direction’ administration, Sierra Leone was missing in action on the international stage, adding since President Bio took over power, they have been able to attach premium on a vibrant economic diplomacy including foreign trade and investment.
“We have been strengthening internal capacity to project our foreign policy. Training programmes have been conducted for our compatriots that are on foreign missions. We have also placed premium on national interest as an engine to support foreign policy,” he said, and added that they have increased the global footprint of Sierra Leone under President Bio.
He disclosed that plans were underway for the establishment of high commissions in South Africa, so as to tap into the southern African economic opportunities.