Sierra Leone’s Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Nations and Coordinator of the Committee of 10 African States on United Nations Security Council Reform, Rev. Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, yesterday told diplomats , United States officials and distinguished personalities in New York that Sierra Leone was presently doing a tremendous job to rebuild the country after the 11-year civil war which ended in 2002.
The Minister said that at one time the international media was abuzz with negative stories about Sierra Leone as a result of the war which created a humanitarian disaster in the country . He said that everyday the newspapers , TV and online media outlets had nothing to report on Sierra Leone but the thousands of murders and rapes committed during the war as well as the amputations and massive destruction of the country’s infrastructure. The Minister told his rapt audience that “now, however, ” he has good news for them about Sierra Leone. “Through the remarkable resilience of our people and the determination of our government , under the progressive leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone has embarked on a new path of national reconciliation, national reintegration and national reconstruction and there is socio-economic and political progress in the country, which the International Community has acknowledged and caused the international image of Sierra Leone to change dramatically”, he said.
Minister Kabs-Kanu further told the audience that Sierra Leone is now one of the safest countries in the world and he called on investors to carry trade and commerce to the country.He also said that tourists were invited to go and enjoy the breathcatching beauty of Sierra Leone and the hospitality of the people.
The Minister was speaking during an impressive Leadership Dialogue staged by three U.S organizations involved in reconstruction and development in underdeveloped countries around the world–The United African Congress , Give Them A Hand and the Earth Rights Institute –at the Manhattan Club , 200 West 56th Street , New York , on Saturday.
The occasion was attended by the UN Under-Secretary General, LDC, H.E. Cheikh Sidi Diarra , many African ambassadors and diplomats assigned to the UN, senators , business leaders and entrepeneurs and other U.S. Government officials , heads of humanitarian and charity organizations and distinguished personalities in the Big Apple.
The Minister represented the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN at the occasion and was requested to make remarks about the latest developments in Sierra Leone. He seized the opportunity to explain progress being made so far by the All People’s Congress ( APC) Government to rebuild the country, which was destroyed by the last Civil war that killed over 20, 000 people and left a large number of disabled victims.
During the program, two important initiatives on the reconstruction and development of Haiti and a trade and cultural event with Africa were unveiled.
AT THE HIGH TABLE : UN UNDER-SECRETARY GENERAL, H.E. DIARRA (RIGHT ) AND SIERRA LEONE’S MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY LEEROY WILFRED KABS-KANU
Minister Kabs-Kanu told the audience that since President Ernest Koroma came to power in 2007 through one of the best democratic elections ever held in Africa, he and his government have been working tremendously to rebuild the country and reshape the nation’s destiny. He told them about the AGENDA FOR CHANGE launched by President Koroma , which is built around the pillars of Energy, Agriculture , Transportation and Human Development and through this program, the government has brought electricity to the country (While also completing the long-delayed Bumbuna Hydroelectricity Project ) , engaged in ambitious road and infrastructural development , accelerated farming activities throughout the country in an effort aimed at achieving food security and it has also instituted a dramatic change in health care delivery ,with the result that post-natal and child deaths, once an alarming feature of life in Sierra Leone, have been drastically reduced.
The minister said that last year President Koroma introduced free health care for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under 5 and the government’s efforts at efficient health care delivery was rewarded when the UN gave the country an award during the 65th Session of the General Assembly for efforts being made to fulfill the Millenium Development Goals ( MDGs) in the area of Health. The minister said that the government has many more plans to bring relief to the people and he called on friends of Sierra Leone , development partners , international donor agencies and the International Community to come to the aid of the country as she strives to press home her new image as a model of post-war national reconstruction in the world .
MINISTER KANU ( LEFT ) POSES WITH FAMOUS AUTHOR AND ANCHOR OF NY 1 TV, MS. CHERYL WILLS; THE PRESIDENT AND NATIONAL SPOKESMAN OF THE UAC MR. SIDIQUE WAI AND ANOTHER DISTINGUISHED GUEST
Apart from the diplomats and other personalities present, another very important person at the occasion was Mr. Gary Shulze, who has been involved in development initiatives in Sierra Leone for long. Also present were the Publisher of CARIBBEAN NEWS, Dr. Karl Rodney; the President and CEO of the newspaper, Mrs. Faye Rodney ; the anchor and author of NY1 Television, Cheryl Wills , the NYPD Chief of Community Affairs Bureau , Chief Philip Banks 111; the Democratic Conference Leader of New York State, Hon. John Sampson; the Vice-President of J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, Ms. Barne Jones; the retired Chairman of the Department of Medicine and Distinguished Professor of Medicine, SUNY Downstate Dr. Edmund Burke; Head of one of the largest cardiology practices in New York, Dr. Oluyemi Badero ; the President/CEO of Global Alliance ,Dr. Dexter Mackenzie ; the Executive Director of the Foundation For the University of The West Indies, Ms. Anne-Marie Grant; Former Mayor of Rahway Mr. James Kennedy and the former Head of the UN Fund for International Partnerships, Mr. Amir Dosal,among others.
Sierra Leonean -born, Mr. Sidique Wai , President/National Spokesman of the United African Congress , who is engaged in many civic and developmental initiatives in the U.S, co-hosted the program , along with the National Chair Dr. Mohamed Nurhussein MD , the Chair of Give Them A Hand Foundation, H.E. Gordon Tapper and Imam Shamshi Ali of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York.
Mr. Wai thanked the Minister for sharing the refreshing news about progress being made in Sierra Leone. Other distinguished guests also thanked him for the information and said that they wished Sierra Leone well in her efforts to rebuild after the war.
The Chair of Give Them A Hand Foundation, H.E. Gordon Tapper, did a power-point presentation of the humanitarian crisis in Haiti and unveiled a multi-million dollar project being undertaken by his organization for the reconstruction of Haiti after the disastrous earthquake that hit the country last year.
The UN Under-Secretary General, H.E. Diarra , briefed the gathering about the latest on the crisis in the Ivory Coast and efforts being made by the UN to help solve the stalemate.