By KABS KANU :
The Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, Ambassador Adikalie Foday Sumah , yesterday handed over to Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Dr. Samura Kamara, cheques in the the amount of U.S $ 275, 000 , being contributions thus far generated by the Mission from its staff and outside donors as humanitarian relief assistance for thousands of victims of the Monday August 14, 2017 mudslide disaster in Freetown.
The money —which represents $50,000 remitted by the Mission from the Special account set up for contributions to the disaster fund and $225, 000 that the Permanent Mission of Kuwait to the UN transferred by wire to the account at the Commercial Bank in Sierra Leone , set up by the Ministry— was presented to Dr. Samura Kamara, at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Sierra Leone in Freetown.
The balance of $6, o30 from the total amount of monies received thus far as of Friday September 8, will be used to cover loading and freight costs for the three containers of relief supplies the Mission will also be sending to Freetown, in case no funding is received to cover the processing and shipment of the containers.
Over 1, 000 people perished a month ago when heavy torrential rains caused a catastrophic mudslide at Regent Village , near Freetown and widespread flooding in the capital, which also left thousands more people homeless .
It must be recalled that one day after the disaster in Freetown , the Foreign Ministry , in a memo addressed to all Sierra Leone’s embassies and Missions abroad , informing them about the mudslide catastrophe , directed them to inform their respective host governments and/or organizations about the disaster . The Ministry said that it would be further appreciated “if our esteemed Missions could engage their respective Sierra Leonean diaspora communities regarding the disaster”.
In response to this request, the Sierra Leone Mission to the UN sprang immediately to action , engaging other embassies and missions as well as Sierra Leonean organizations and foreign institutions within its jurisdiction in the Tri-State —New York, New Jersey and Connecticut–to garner funds and relief supplies for the victims of the mudslide disaster.
In an open letter of appeal for assistance to flood victims , directed at Sierra Leoneans within its jurisdiction , authored by the Head of Chancery/ Minister Plenipotentiary Mr. Alhusine Sesay, the Mission stated that “Given the assessed severity and urgency the Government of Sierra Leone attaches to the aftermath of the unprecedented scale of this tragic event”, the Mission was “appealing for the collaboration of all compatriots in efforts to harness timely humanitarian assistance for the victims in nationalistic support to the Government in its response mechanism ” . Mr. Sesay went on to say that “The immediate needs on this sad occasion include but not limited to food, clothing, shelter and medicines for the thousands of displaced surviving victims, including women and children. ”
The Mission’s speedy and impressive outreach to host governments and organizations and the Sierra Leonean diaspora has yielded dividends thus far and the huge amount presented yesterday to the Foreign Minister by Ambassador Sumah was just one of the initiatives that have started bearing fruits.
Through the instrumentality of its staff, including Deputy Permanent Representatives , Ambassadors Amadu Koroma and Felix Koroma and the Head of Chancery/ Minister Plenipotentiary Mr. Alhusine Sesay, and the collaborative efforts of Sierra Leonean community leaders in New Jersey —Chairman of the West African Community in NJ, Mr. Foday Mansaray and another staff member , Minister Plenipotentiary to the Mission , Rev. Leeroy Wilfred Kabs Kanu, who resides in the Garden State—the Mission was able to get a 40-foot container from Tangent International at the Elizabeth seaport ,which is presently being loaded with relief materials for the mudslide and flood victims in Freetown. Another container is being loaded presently in Michigan.
This morning, HOC Mr .Sesay stated that “More donations are still coming in while the Mission together with the communities in the Tri-State Area, are organizing three 40-foot containers for shipment as further relief items in assistance to the said victims. ”
The Permanent Representative, Ambassador Sumah, who has been on official assignment in Sierra Leone even before the mudslide disaster, will be returning to the U.S. on Thursday September 14 and on the following day, Friday September 15 , he is expected to lead a delegation of embassy staff to the Inter-faith Council and Masjid Ali of New Jersey to build upon and add more impetus to the outreach undertaken three weeks ago by the staff , led by the chargé d’affaires Mr. Amadu Koroma, who appealed to the Council and Masjid for help for the mudslide victims.
Ambassador Sumah will meet with the Mayor of Franklin, Dr. Phil Kramer , the President of the Interfaith Council, Dr. Asghar Alex Kharazi, officials of Masjid Ali and community leaders in New Jersey to help strengthen collaboration between them and the Mission with regards to exploring more avenues to assist the mudslide victims in Sierra Leone and also establishing fruitful relations with the New Jersey Community.