DIPLOMATIC LOBBYING AVERTS FURTHER CRISIS FOR SIERRA EONE

 
Had it not been for the diplomatic onslaught that has become the hallmark of Ambassador Ibrahim Sorie, Sierra Leone could have been plunged into further crisis, with ships threatening to stop sailing to the three Ebola affected countries (Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea).
However, this ugly development has been averted after series of diplomatic lobbying in Paris by the workaholic Sierra Leone envoy.
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Through the intervention of Bolloré Africa Logistics with headquarters in Paris, which also operates the Cargo Terminal at the Sierra Leone Port in Freetown, Container ships continue to berth at the Queen Elizabeth II, whilst uncontained items are being offloaded at the Dakar harbor.  Bolloré Africa Logistics Deputy Director for Africa, Stanislas de Saint Louvent assured that the company is working round the clock to ensure the container terminal section at the Freetown harbour is well secured with the application of the necessary health controls. These control systems will be extended to the entire Port in Freetown.  “We are assiduously working to help control the situation”.
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He disclosed that there is pressure from shipping lines for all shipment to the Ebola affected states be suspended.  He however, reassured that, “we will do everything to encourage the situation.  We share the vision of the government and people of Sierra Leone”.
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He further informed Ambassador Sorie and team that Bolloré is working in collaboration with the International SOS mission in London, a company that is specialized in health and crisis management.  “Our mission is to put procedures in place and act”.
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The Bolloré management team reaffirmed the commitment of the French Business Companies Association operating in Africa.  “These companies are now very active in educating the French populace about the damages of closing their businesses which could have devastating effect than the Ebola itself.  We should not add economic pain to the human pain that is already affecting Sierra Leone”.
In another diplomatic engagement with officials of the Protocol and Crisis Centre Divisions of the French Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Sorie expressed his disappointment over the decision of the French government to order the suspension of Air France flight to Sierra Leone and Liberia but maintain flights schedules to Guinea where the Ebola crisis emanated and still ravaging.  He appealed to the French Government to reconsider its decision.
“I applaud the role of France in Africa.  All I am asking is for France to treat all countries evenly, notwithstanding the colonial ties and language differences”, the Ambassador appealed.
The same message was also delivered at a meeting with the Executive of Air France in Paris where Ambassador Sorie emphasized that the presence of Air France in Sierra Leone was a serious reference for the country to investors.
 
Air France’s Vice President, Didier Le Bret said the airline management too was not happy with the decision to suspend flight to Sierra Leone and Liberia, but could not go against the directives of the French Government.
The suspension, according to the VP, is to last up to the end of October, but added that their resumption of flights to Sierra Leone squarely lies on the decision of the French government. He therefore urged the Sierra Leone government through its Embassy to continue the diplomatic offensive until the decision is reversed.
Meanwhile, Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Madam Hannah Tetteh assured ECOWAS Ambassadors in Paris of the regional organization’s commitment to ensure effective combine efforts in the fight against Ebola.
She said Ghana will continue to provide all the support needed by the countries affected by the Ebola virus.
Her meeting with the ECOWAS Ambassadors in Paris coincided with the 20th Anniversary celebration of the Slave Route Project organized by UNESCO.
By Chernor Ojuku Sesay,
Information Attaché,
Sierra Leone Embassy,
Brussels/EU.

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