December 17, 2021
By PEL Koroma, Embassy of Sierra Leone, Washington DC
Seeking the National Interest of the Republic of Sierra Leone is the major focus of the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in the United States of America and other countries of accreditation. To that end, the Embassy has continued to actively engage officials of the host government, corporate organizations, the Sierra Leone diaspora communities and participate in diplomatic corps activities. These engagements have yielded dividends to the people of Sierra Leone:
Engagement with Host Governments
The Embassy has effectively engaged State Department to further strengthen and promote the excellent bilateral relations between the Republic of Sierra Leone and the United States of America. This engagement has led to the lifting of the B1/B2 Visa sanctions that United States imposed on Sierra Leone in September 2017, and in March 2021. Sierra Leone is now Visa sanction free.
The Embassy in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation recently received from the United States Government a donation of 113,490 doses Modern a COVID-19 Vaccines for Sierra Leone.
The Embassy closely worked under the leadership of the office of the Vice President for Sierra Leone to become eligible to develop the MCC Compact.
In May this year, the Embassy hosted a historic dinner in honor of Hon. Gregory Meeks, the first Africa- American Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee elected in the 190 years of United States Congress. At this event, 8 Ambassadors across Africa in the United States, United States government officials, and Sierra Leone diaspora community and friends of Sierra Leone were in attendance. The relationship with Congressman Meeks culminated to the meetings Professor David J. Francis had when he visited United States in June this year to introduce the new paradigm shift of Development Diplomacy to the United States government. In the same vein, President Bio had a very fruitful meeting with United States government officials at Capitol Hill when he was in United States for the UNGA 76th session.
Hon. Gregory Meeks is very proud of his ancestral relationship with the Mendes in Sierra Leone.
As part of our engagements, the Embassy has facilitated the presentation of Letters of Credence by Ambassador Sidique Abou- Bakarr Wai to the United States of America, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Guyana, Jamaica, and Brazil.
In the area of diplomatic corps activities, Ambassador Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai is a Co-Chair of the Diaspora Committee of African Ambassadors Diplomatic Corps and the Secretary General of the ECOWAS Group of Ambassadors. The Embassy of Sierra Leone therefore serves as one of the central coordinating entities and resource for African Ambassadors in the United States of America.
To access funds provided by the US Government under the Prosper Africa Initiative, in 2019 our Embassy developed a project proposal for a Mano River Rail Transport (MRRT) to improve our infrastructure and investment in the region. Due to the Embassy’s active participation in the diplomatic community, the Embassy of Sierra Leone in Washington DC successfully secured the partnerships of our diplomatic colleagues from Guinea, Liberia and Cote D’Ivoire to join Sierra Leone to work on the implementation of the Mano River Rail Transport (MRRT). However, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the MRRT project implementation was put on hold. The Embassy has however made some progress in working with the relevant US authorities to provide funding for the project.
The Embassy enjoys an excellent and fruitful working relationship with the diaspora.
The Embassy is currently partnering with African American diaspora, to send Economic Development and Trade Mission that will be in Freetown in March, 2022 to explore opportunities to invest in Sierra Leone. The Mission is an outcome of one of the high-level business meetings the Embassy facilitated for His Excellency the President during his visit to the United States in September 2021.
To support the Government’s efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Embassy successfully rallied the Sierra Leone diaspora communities and the Sierra Leone Honorary Consuls in the United States of America and secured US$ 7.5 Million worth of COVID -19 pandemic materials and drugs. The Container was shipped to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation in 2020
The Embassy in support of President Bio’s Free Quality Education program has established the Diaspora Free Quality Education Basket Fund. The Sierra Leone diaspora community, the Bernie Hope Foundation and friends of Sierra Leone have supported the Diaspora Free Quality Education Basket Fund to the tune of US$48,000. The money will be sent to the Ministry of Basic Education as the Embassy’s initial contribution to the Free Quality Education program.
In April 2021, the Sierra Leone diaspora community and the friends of Sierra Leone funded the 60th Independence celebration of Sierra Leone in the United States. The event brought together United States government officials, ECOWAS Ambassadors in the United States, and the Sierra Leonean diaspora community.
By working with Healthcare Sierra Leone, an organization of Sierra Leonean healthcare professionals in the United States, the Embassy recently facilitated the visit of a group called Global Respond Team to Sierra Leone to explore opportunities to promote healthcare in Sierra Leone.
Welfare of Sierra Leonean Citizens Under the Jurisdiction of the Embassy.
Consular visits have been paid to Sierra Leoneans detained by the U.S Department of Homeland Security/Immigrations and Customs Enforcement for various offences. The Embassy has made successes in securing the release of some Sierra Leoneans especially those with severe medical conditions.
Upon information from a Caribbean Newspaper about a stranded Sierra Leonean called Ms. Etta Finley in Jamaica, the Embassy promptly acted by facilitating the repatriation of Ms. Etta Finley and her daughter Scarlette to Sierra Leone. They were accompanied by the Embassy Staff who handed them over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation.
Etta and her daughter desired to return to Sierra Leone after living a deplorable life in Jamaica.
The Sierra Leone Embassy in United States is working in line with the aspirations of Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio.