The Government of Sierra Leone deeply reaffirms its commitments in the provision of international protection to refugees and other persons of concern. This is according to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon Joseph Bandabla Dauda. The Minister was addressing delegates on the 66th Session of the Executive Committee Meeting of UNHCR High Commissioner’s Programme held in Geneva, Switzerland.
Sierra Leone Embraces Refugees and Stateless Persons
The Minister who is accompanied by the Commissioner of NaCSA, Alie Badara Mansaray and NaCSA's Relief and Resettlement Manager, Mohamed Koroma informed the gathering that with efforts by NaCSA and the UN family, Sierra Leone has recently concluded the profiling and analysis of the residual caseload of refugees and free residence permits and passports provided to all locally integrated Liberian Refugees residing in the country.
He mentioned the amendment of the 2007 Refugee Protection Act and re-echoed Government’s commitment in ensuring fair, efficient and transparent asylum systems in the country. This came about as a result of a preliminary review of the Act and a drafted bill which is set to be subsequently submitted to Parliament for amendment. He disclosed that Cabinet has already approved the two Statelessness Conventions in fulfillment of the pledge made by the Government of Sierra Leone at the 2011 Ministerial Meeting and the 2015 Regional Ministerial Conference in Abidjan.
The Minister appealed for continued financial, logistical and technical support in ensuring the fulfillment of these commitments for better protection of persons of concern and the continued presence of UNHCR to strengthen the capacity of relevant national institutions in refugee protection and statelessness. He told delegates that Sierra Leone is one of the worst Ebola affected countries in West Africa, stating that over 8,697 people were infected with over 3,586 recorded deaths. He further said that the outbreak of the epidemic resulted in delaying the implementation of some of the planned activities including Ratification of the Statelessness Conventions, Revision of the Refugee Protection Act, and Durable Solution for the red coded Liberians who were rejected during the passport vetting mission on nationality grounds.
Hon Dauda described UNHCR’s relationship with Sierra Leone as “very cordial and excellent” while stressing that effort are afoot to conclude the outstanding activities and map out a conducive legal environment for Persons of Concern. The Executive Committee Meeting of UNHCR High Commissioner’s Programme ends on 9th. October 2015.