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Press Release: United Nations thanks Sierra Leone for its contribution to UN peacekeeping

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Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio Departs to Co-Chair 2022 Transforming Education Summit, Participates in UN General Assembly in New York

State House, Freetown, Saturday 17 September 2022 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio and delegation have departed for New York, United States, where he will co-chair the 2022 Transforming Education Summit, TES, and is expected to address the 77th UN General Assembly on Wednesday 21 September 2022 as a Global Champion for Foundational Learning.

The President co-chairs the Leaders Group of the High-Level Steering Committee for Sustainable Development Goal 4 with Audrey Azoulay, the Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO.

He is also slated to give an opening statement on Leaders Day, with selected heads of State including Alberto Fernández of Argentina, Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia and António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General.

President Julius Maada Bio will speak at the Spotlight Session on Leaders Day on “The Global Challenge of Addressing the Learning Crisis” with David Malpass, the World Bank Group President and Catherine Russell, the Executive Director of United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF.

Apart from also participating in the African Union’s “Transforming Education in Africa” with the Executive Director of UNICEF, the Director General of UNESCO, the Executive Director of WFP, and the Chairperson of the African Union, President Bio will host a High-Level Dinner on post-Transforming Education Summit commitments.

It could be recalled that in the last four years, Sierra Leone’s global leadership in education has been remarkable with President Bio and UNESCO now co-chairing the Leaders Group of the High-Level Steering Committee for Sustainable Development Goal 4.

The country’s Minister of Basic and Secondary School Education, Dr David Moinina Sengeh, is chair of the advisory board for the Global Education Monitoring Report to UNESCO and also now co-chairing the Advisory Board for the Transforming Education Summit with the Deputy Secretary General, Amina J. Mohammed, who described him as a model modern minister of education.

Sierra Leone serves on the executive committee of the Global Partnership for Education, a US$ 4.5 billion fund for education, and has also hosted United Nations Gender Equality Initiative to launch the Freetown Manifesto on gender equality through education, a programme implemented by UNGEI and UNESCO IIEP and supported by UNICEF, GPE, UNESCO and the governments of Italy, France, United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union.

The President and his delegation are expected back in Freetown on Thursday 22 September 2022.

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Highlights of President Julius Maada Bio’s participation in the 2022 Transforming Education Summit (TES) and other Education-related Event in New York

  1. President Julius Maada Bio co-chairs the Leaders Group of the High-Level Steering Committee for Sustainable Development Goal 4 with the Director General of UNESCO
  2. President Julius Maada Bio will give an Opening Statement on Leaders Day with selected heads of State including Argentina, the President of Ethiopia and the UN Secretary-General.
  3. President Julius Maada Bio will speak at Spotlight Session on Leaders Day on “The Global Challenge of Addressing the Learning Crisis” with the President of the World Bank and the Executive Director of UNICEF
  4. President Julius Maada Bio is a Global Champion for Foundational Learning at the invitation of UN Secretary-General
  5. President Julius Maada Bio will host a High-Level Dinner on post-Transforming Education Summit commitments
  6. President Julius Maada Bio will participate in the African Union’s “Transforming Education in Africa” with the Executive Director of UNICEF, the Director General of UNESCO, the Executive Director of WFP, and the Chairperson of the African Union.

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UN Resident Coordinator Babatunde Ahonsi Urges Inter-Party Dialogue

In a Press Statement dated 10th June, 2022 and issued by the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office it was categorically stated that the United Nations in Sierra Leone expresses concern over the violent incidents that occurred on the 7th June 2022 in Bendugu town, Sambaia Chiefdom, Tonkolili district, ahead of the by-elections for the Member of Parliament of Constituency 056, leading to injuries to people and damages to properties.

Further stated was that the United Nations deeply condemns all forms of violence and calls on all parts of society – including political leaders and party supporters, traditional and religious leaders, national and local institutions, and citizens in general – to commit to a spirit of tolerance and to work together to maintain peace in Sierra Leone.

Also underscored was that the United Nations in Sierra Leone is calling for a prompt investigation of the incidents so that perpetrators may be brought to justice.

Finally highlighted was that the United Nations in Sierra Leone is urging dialogue, including between political parties, to resolve political differences maintaining that it stands ready to support such dialogue.

(C) The Calabash Newspaper

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Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio Holds Bilateral Meetings with Presidents of Slovenia, DR Congo, Director-General of WTO

New York, United States, Tuesday 21 September 2021– His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has held productive bilateral meetings on the margins of the 76th UN General Assembly, UNGA, with President Borut Pahor of the Republic of Slovenia, President Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo of Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, and Director-General of World Trade Organisation, WTO, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

President Bio commended President Pahor for the leadership of the European Council and explained that the strategic priority of his government was human capital development.

In his remarks, the Slovenian President commended President Bio for his leadership and expressed interest in exploring business opportunities between the two countries.

In another engagement, President Bio held a bilateral meeting with President Tshilombo of the DRC, who also doubles as Chairperson of the African Union.

As Coordinator of the Committee of 10 Heads of State and Government of the African Union (C-10), President Bio also called for more solidarity and the reinforcement of the African common position on the reform of the United Nations Security Council.

The Chairperson of the African Union praised President Bio for his leadership of the C-10 and expressed his continued support for the African Common Position. The two Heads of State and Government also committed to strengthening bilateral relations between Sierra Leone and the DRC.

In a separate engagement, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio held talks with the Director-General of the WTO, Dr Okonjo-Iweala. During the meeting, she updated the President on some of the plans of WTO, including advocating for African countries to develop COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing capacities, food security, developing a fisheries fund and concluding on the agreement of the fisheries subsidy, digital trade for African countries and building the capacities of small and medium enterprises for women.

On his part, President Bio informed her that COVID-19 had posed serious challenges to Sierra Leone’s economy, adding that: “our country’s response to the pandemic has been robust because of our experience in the fight against Ebola”.

He congratulated the Director-General on her new role and expressed his desire for a sustained partnership between Sierra Leone and WTO.

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Delivering the United Nations Common Agenda: Action to Achieve Equality and Inclusion

His Excellency Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of SierraLeone, is the only African leader selected for the global summit on Action to Achieve Equality and Inclusion slated for Thursday 23 September 2021 on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.

President Bio will join other world leaders, global champions, and experts as they share inspiring commitments and ideas to combat inequality and exclusion, demonstrating that change is possible.

This global summit is co-sponsored by the Leaders Network Reinforcing Multilateralism Together and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies. The six other world leaders selected for the global summit are:

H.E. Carlos Alvarado, President of #CostaRica (Visit Costa Rica); H.E Michael D. Higgins, President of #Ireland (Tourism Ireland); H.E Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of #Bangladesh; Rt. Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of #NewZealand; H.E Pedro Sanchez, Prime Minister of #Spain; and H.E Stefan Lofven, Prime Minister of Sweden.

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UN Secretary General Urges Governments to Support Free, Independent & Diverse Media

On the 3rd May 2021, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urged Governments to “do everything in their power” to support free, independent and diverse media, which the UN’s top human rights official highlighted as “a cornerstone of democratic societies”.

In a message on World Press Freedom Day, marked annually on 3 May, the Secretary-General underscored the importance of reliable, verified and accessible information.

“During the pandemic, and in other crises including the climate emergency, journalists and media workers help us navigate a fast-changing and often overwhelming landscape of information, while addressing dangerous inaccuracies and falsehoods”, he said.

“Free and independent journalism is our greatest ally in combatting misinformation and disinformation.”

He also noted the personal risks journalists and media workers face, including restrictions, censorship, abuse, harassment, detention and even death, “simply for doing their jobs”, and that the situation continues to worsen.

The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has hit many media outlets hard, threatening their very survival, he added.

“As budgets tighten, so too does access to reliable information. Rumours, falsehoods and extreme or divisive opinions surge in to fill the gap,” the Secretary-General said, urging all Governments to “do everything in their power to support a free, independent and diverse media”.

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, also highlighted the importance of free, uncensored and independent Press as “a cornerstone of democratic societies”, conveying life-saving information, improving public participation, and strengthening accountability and respect for human rights.

“Around the world, people have increasingly taken to the streets to demand their economic and social rights, as well as an end to discrimination and systemic racism, impunity, and corruption”, she said.

However, journalists fulfilling their fundamental role of reporting on these social protests have become targets, with many becoming victims of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force, arbitrary arrests, and criminal prosecution, Ms. Bachelet added.

In addition to dissuading other journalists from critically reporting on relevant issues, such attacks weaken public debate and hamper society’s ability to respond effectively to challenges, including COVID-19, she said.

Marked annually on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom. It is also an occasion to evaluate press freedom globally, to defend the media from attacks on their independence, and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

The date marks the adoption of the landmark Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press at a UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conference in the Namibian capital, in 1991.

This year, the World Day focuses on the theme of “Information as a Public Good”, affirming the importance of information as a public good, and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism, as well as to improve transparency and empowerment.

The theme ties in with UNESCO’s work to ensure the long-term health of independent, pluralistic journalism, and the safety of media workers everywhere, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the UN agency tasked with defending press freedom, said:

“As part of these efforts, we are working to create more transparency on online platforms in areas such as content moderation, while respecting human rights and international freedom of expression rules”, she said.

She also highlighted the agency’s work to equip people globally with the media and information literacy skills they need to navigate this new information landscape, so they can avoid being duped or manipulated online.

“As we mark World Press Freedom Day, I call on everyone to renew their commitment to the fundamental right to freedom of expression, to defend media workers, and to join us in ensuring that information remains a public good,” Ms. Azoulay added.

(C) The Calabash Newspaper

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UN And Partners Register Visit To The Minister Of Health And Sanitation

The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Babatunde Ahonsi, UNAIDS Rep, Issah Ahemesah and the WHO Representative, Dr Steven V. Shongwe have on the 9th March 2020 paid an official preliminary visit to Dr Austin Demby, Minister of Health & Sanitation and team.The Minister, in his welcoming note, pointed out that the move by the UN, WHO & Partners is a signal of readiness for continuing partnership and for which his ministry is warmly open.

The UN Resident Coordinator started out by congratulating the Minister on the arrival of the AstraZeneca-Oxford Vaccine and expressed that with his experience and background, the Minister’s appointment could not come at a better time. He continued that the UN family has enjoyed a long working relationship with MoHS and emphasized the centrality of the health sector in achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

“The health sector must be seen as an investment that generates significant returns rather than an expenditure, said Babatunde Ahonsi and continued that prioritizing human capital development should not be trivialized.

Dr Shongwe relayed that the WHO acknowledges the significant progress made by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation evident in the establishment of NaCOVERC in responding to COVID-19. He asserted that what may have started as a health issue proved to become a development issue wherein more resources require mobilization positioned to fostering functional institutional development.

In his response to statements made by partners, the Minister of Health & Sanitation underlined how brilliantly were health issues captured by the visiting team and this presents an opportunity to change the narrative of immediate and emerging health concerns. The Minister laid out that his vision largely gears towards building the utmost potential of every Sierra Leonean through attractive health care service delivery, investment, institutional management and sustainability.

“The health sector must be seen as an investment that generates significant returns rather than an expenditure,” said Babatunde Ahonsi and continued that prioritizing human capital development should not be trivialized.

Source- Ministry of Health and Sanitation

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UN Chief Pays Courtesy Call on State House, Presents Letter of Appointment to Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio

State House, Freetown, Thursday 22 October, 2020 – The new United Nations Resident Coordinator to Sierra Leone, Babatunde Ahonsi, has called on President Dr Julius Maada Bio to present his letter of appointment by the UN Secretary General.

”It is with utmost humility and great honour that I present my credentials as the United Nations Resident Coordinator appointed by His Excellency, the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, to serve in Sierra Leone. I am privileged that your excellency speedily approved my designation and wish to express my sincere appreciation and profound gratitude.

“I am cognizant of the fruitful relations that exist between the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN system. Thus, I am eager to deepen UN partnerships with the Government, and our other partners in development towards accelerating the country’s quest for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and a middle-income country status,” he said.

Mr Ahonsi noted that 2020 had been a challenging year worldwide, especially for Sierra Leone, after having gone through Ebola between 2014 and 2016 to be affected again by the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that despite those health challenges and their adverse development impacts, the admirable resilience of the people of Sierra Leone had kept the country going.

”Your Excellency, this is a time for a change. We can defeat COVID-19 by being responsible citizens and heeding the call of our health experts. Sierra Leone needs all of us to overcome this outbreak. While we are still battling this virus, the UN system in Sierra Leone remains committed to supporting your Government not only with the health response but also with recovery,” he explained.

In his remarks, President Bio welcomed the new UN chief and congratulated him on his appointment, noting that he had taken office at a very difficult time the world over. He agreed with him that the novel Coronavirus was really ravaging the lives of people and the economies of the world.

“Sierra Leone and the United Nations system enjoy a very strong, multilateral and beneficial relationship. I think we are contributing to the UN success around the world. You are going to build on that very good relationship that my country has with the UN,” he said.

The President reiterated that the UN had supported Sierra Leone in achieving its sustainable development goals that would foster developments.

“The country had identified Peace and National Cohesion as a means that would provide the ecosystem for sustainable economic development. We are putting our own architecture together that pays specific attention, at all times, to instigators of violence and unrest. We believe that those fundamental grievances that are left unaddressed can lead to challenges and political upheaval. We want to make sure that they are addressed within a framework,” he noted.

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“Unending Cycles of Conflict Question Effectiveness of UN…”-Pres. Bio Intimates 75th United Nations Summit

“Unending Cycles of Conflict Question Effectiveness of UN…”-Pres. Bio Intimates 75th United Nations Summit

President Julius Maada Bio has impressively intimated the United Nations that the unending cycles of conflict, the devastating impacts of climate change and the spread of terrorism in recent history, continue to question the effectiveness of the organization.

After commending Volkan Bozkır, President of the Seventy-Fifth Session of the General Assembly, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations and Mr. Abdou Abarry, President of the Security Council he pledged his country’s unending support to their tenures.

“I congratulate and commend Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for his sterling leadership especially in this Diamond Jubilee Anniversary year,” President Bio said, adding that, “Sierra Leone is delighted to join other member States in commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations.”

According to him, in spite of an unprecedented and disruptive global health crisis with attendant severe economic and social impacts, “our challenge is to emerge stronger and better by broadening and deepening dialogue and cooperation across borders, sectors, and generations.

”President Bio went on to say that, “Our collective commitment to multilateralism will therefore determine how fast our world recovers and whether we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

”President Bio recommended that they should collectively generate innovative ideas for fostering peace and better living standards for all.

“We should implement reform measures in the three major organs of the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of this noble institution,” he concluded.

In his overwhelming assurance, President Bio said Sierra Leone is committed to working with all member States in upholding and fulfilling the objectives as set out in the United Nations Charter. President Bio was addressing the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

(C) The Calabash Newspaper

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UN Commissions Specialized COVID-19 Treatment Centre at 34 Military Hospital

The 29 May 2020 will go down the annals of history as the day when the United Nations in Sierra Leone successfully constructed and handed over a specialized COVID 19 treatment centre at the 34 Military Hospital to the Government of Sierra Leone as part of the UN support to the national COVID-19 efforts. `

The 13-bed treatment centre which was commissioned on 28 May 2020 by the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone represents shared efforts between the UN family in Sierra Leone, national authorities and the 34 Military Hospital.

UNFPA provided the overall coordination, technical leadership and funding for the construction of the specialized treatment centre, with the construction alone costing approximately $ 120,000.

UNDP led the way in developing a Memorandum of Understanding with the 34 Military Hospital; WFP provided technical leadership in the design and the on-the-ground execution of the project, and also provided the huge ‘Rubb Hall’ tent under which the facility was constructed; WHO provided technical guidance to ensure adherence to quality standards; The Health Manager of the UN Joint Medical Services provided on-site technical support throughout the process.

In his statement at the commissioning, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Sunil Saigal said “This treatment centre is just one part of the UN support to the COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts in Sierra Leone. In addition to the public health response, we are also supporting, together with many other partners, food and nutrition, water and sanitation and socio-economic recovery.

The last part covers work in many different sectors to help mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic and to allow society to recover from the pandemic – to build back better.”

Mr. Sunil Saigal further said “While we are still refining our figures, we initially estimate the collective UN Response at over $ 150 million.

This amount includes activities and resources within the existing UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, which we have been able to rapidly realign, as well as funding being requested under the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan.”

Speaking at the event, the Country Director of DFID, Kobi Bentley, remarked that “DFID is pleased to have played a role in establishing this treatment centre here at Military 34 hospital.

As the world faces the unprecedented challenge of coronavirus, we must work together. In addition to over £760 million of UK aid made available to global response instruments, including £10 million to UNFPA, the UK continues to support the Sierra Leonean health system. We will help to maintain vital health services and to tackle coronavirus through the Saving Lives in Sierra Leone programme and our partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN. The UK stands with Sierra Leone in these difficult times.”

Commenting as she showed guests around the treatment center, the UNFPA Country Representative, Dr. Kim Eva Dickson explained that “the center is a specialized facility that has intensive care equipment that will boost the capacity of the 34 Military Hospital to manage critically-ill COVID-19 patients.

Even after the COVID pandemic is over, the center will be available to provide intensive care facilities for other ailments.” She thanked the government of the United Kingdom for providing funding through UK aid for the equipping of the specialized treatment centre through the Saving Lives in Sierra Leone Programme.

Dr. Kim Eva Dickson also remarked “I am very pleased that UNFPA has been an integral part of this joint UN effort, this is an example of UN collaboration at its best. UNFPA remains committed to supporting the national COVID-19 response whilst ensuring that we remained committed to support the government to strive towards achieving zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.”

(C) The Calabash Newspaper