Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation , Dr. Ebun Strasser -King, has been engaged in the committee and bi-lateral phases of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
As leader of the second segment of the Sierra Leone delegation to the Assembly, along with the Deputy Director -General of the Foreign Ministry Mr. Paul A.S.Minah, Dr. Strasser -King arrived in New York on Monday October 12 on board SN Brussels . During this second segment of the General Assembly, which started on Tuesday October 13, the Deputy Foreign Minister has been busy working in committees and attending few bi-laterals with countries interested in diplomatic engagements with Sierra Leone.
DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER AND DELEGATION MEET THE CUBAN PR ( FAR RIGHT )
Dr. Strasser-King attended the UN Security Council Meeting titled ” Peace and Security in Africa-Ebola “. This was the second emergency Security Council meeting, which addressed the potential of the Ebola outbreak in derailing peace and security in the three countries most hardly hit by the scourge — Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. During the meeting, the Permanent Representative, Mr. Vandi Minah, thanked the UN for the formation of the United Nations Mission on Ebola Emergency Response and noted that the time for action was now . He said that medics have proved that Ebola can be defeated , making the disease a thing of the past.
In her next engagement on October 15 , the Deputy Foreign Minister delivered a statement at the Third Committee , under Item 28 , titled “Advancement of Women”. In her statement, the Minister reaffirmed Sierra Leone’s commitment to the agenda on the advancement of women and welcomed the initiatives and commitments relating to the declaration of 2010 to 2020 as the “African Women’s Decade”. She also mentioned the Country’s National Action Plan on Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 on Sexual Violence thereby relating it to issues such as Youth, Children and disability. She noted that amidst all these developments, the Ebola outbreak is a potential threat to the sustainability of these gains.
DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER DR. EBUN STRASSER-KING DELIBERATES WITH THE PR OF CUBA
The Minister then attended a meeting , entitled : “ What Can We Do to Empower Rural Women in the Post- 2015 Development Agenda? ” . This meeting was organized by World Food Programme(WFP), UN Women, IFAD and FAO. The Chair of the event was Ambassador Guillermo Rischynski of Canada. After deliberations, the meeting converged on the following:
- The need for Women to be engaged in Rural Agriculture which is crucial to Food Security.
- The need to catalyze legal budgetary reforms that make Women self-sufficient.
- The social mobilization of Women.
- To identify concrete actions to help Rural Women.
- The 2011 and 2012 General Assembly Resolutions on the situation of Rural Women to be strengthened.
- The need to mainstream Gender in other Development Goals.
The Deputy Minister’s fourth engagement was a bilateral meeting on October 16 between her , the Deputy Director -General of the Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations in New York, H.E. Rudolfo Rodriguez, held at the UN Delegates’ Lounge. The purpose of the meeting was to express appreciation for Cuban Support to Sierra Leone including the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease.
THE BILATERAL MEETING WITH CUBA : FAR RIGHT IS THE DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER
The Sierra Leone delegation thanked Cuba for her bilateral assistance to the country . The delegation noted that Cuba had sent 32 doctors in 2010, about 29 in 2012 and for the Ebola she sent 165 medical professionals, 63 doctors and 102 nurses and other categories . The Minister added that the advent of the Ebola Disease is an indication that the health System in Sierra Leone is weak. The delegation told the Cuban PR that Sierra Leone needs tremendous support not only to fight the Ebola Disease but also, and more importantly, to strengthen the health sector. The Sierra Leone Deputy Foreign Minister said she looks forward to the continued presence of Cuban doctors and teachers in the country, even after the Ebola outbreak and that the relations between Cuba and Sierra Leone have been long standing , as evident in the exchange of visits over the years by officials of both countries and the establishment of the Sierra Leone/Cuba Joint Commission . The Sierra Leone delegation moreover looked forward to the reopening of Embassies in Freetown and Havana to strengthen the bilateral ties existing between the two countries.
The Cuban Permanent Representative affirmed that Sierra Leone has been the most effective in fighting the Ebola virus in the sub region and he urged the country to continue to work hard in sustaining the effort made so far . He assured the Sierra Leone delegation that Cuba stands ready to cooperate with Sierra Leone at all levels and fervently welcomed the strengthening of the mutual relations at the ambassadorial level . In the interim , he looks forward to the presentation of credentials by the Sierra Leone Permanent Representative to the Cuban Government . Cuba also wholeheartedly looks forward to Sierra Leone’s continued support for the Cuban Resolution : ‘US Sanction on Cuba”.
On October 20, Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Strasser-King held a bi-lateral meeting with the Canadian Ambassador, H.E. Guillermo Rischynski . During the meeting, Dr.Strasser-King thanked the Canadian Ambassador for his country’s role in the Peace Building Commission and also for their support of the Security Council Resolution 2177 which resulted in the setting up of the United Nations Mission for the Ebola Emergency response (UNMEER). She also requested that there was need for a Country like Canada to think of researching on a vaccine that could nip Ebola in the bud.
Responding, the Canadian Ambassador underscored the fact that , from their study of the country, Sierra Leone had so much hope for socio-economic growth, which has been undermined and devastated by the Ebola outbreak. He theorized that the disease itself is an epidemiological challenge to even the Western World, not to talk about a developing Country like Sierra Leone. He stressed the need for the Public to be educated about Ebola both in the US and other parts of the Western World and emphasized the need for a replication of the Centre for Disease Control in West Africa that could look into future outbreaks.
The sixth bi-lateral meeting for the Deputy Foreign Minister was held between her and the Permanent Representative of Ireland, H.E. Tim Mawe. Dr. Strasser-King thanked the Irish PR for his country’s support towards curbing the Ebola Virus in Sierra Leone and she requested their continued support in the fight to rid Sierra Leone of the scourge. Ireland’s support to Sierra Leone has been primarily in food aid to bolster our nutrition programs. They recently in October sent a high level delegation to Freetown to determine the level of support to be sent for Ebola. They also made a significant donation of food through the WFP for quarantined communities and Sierra Leone is one of the countries receiving the greatest aid in nutrition from Irish Aid .She also lauded Canada for Irish Aid, which supported the Sierra Leone Government in writing the Agenda for Prosperity (AfP), particularly the pillar 8. Irish Aid, it must be recalled, hosted the Round Table Discussion during the Committee on the Status of Women this year . Irish Aid is also supporting scaling up nutrition and the secretariat hosted in VPs office. They also support the rainbow centers that provide free medical treatment to victims of sexual violence among others.
The Minister also thanked Ireland for support to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs in mapping partners‘ working gender issues as enshrined in the Agenda for Prosperity.
In response, the PR of Ireland extended his sympathy to the nation for the loss of lives during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. He said that Ireland will continue to support the Country during this time of need and spoke of high hopes for the viability of the serum , even though he was worried about the quantum since the population of the infected people is rising by the day.