The Sustainable Development Goals in Sierra Leone
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Sierra Leone:
24 January 2023
UN reiterates commitment to supporting peaceful, inclusive & credible 2023 elections.
United Nations Resident Coordinator (RC) Mr Babatunde Ahonsi today reiterated the UN’s commitment to supporting national institutions and the people of Sierra Leone in conducting peaceful, inclusive, and credible elections later in June this year. In his remarks at the start of a three-day training organized by UNDP and the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) for young political leaders at the Sierra Bay Hotel in Freetown, the RC also stressed the organization’s encouragement for all efforts “aimed at preventing violent conflicts that could revert the country’s gains of peace and democracy.” He commended PPRC and UNDP for the training and emphasized that young people have a vital role in the present and future of democracy in Sierra Leone. “Engaging young people in democratic processes and allowing them to participate, safely and constructively, in politics are core aspects of any effort to sustain democracy,” the RC said. Furthermore, recognizing young people as a positive force in preventing and resolving conflicts and building sustainable peace, according to Mr Ahonsi has gained significant momentum since the UN Security Council resolution 2250 on youth, peace, and security (YPS) on 9 December 2015. “Young people are described as key agents of change in the 2030 Agenda and crucial actors in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Mr Ahonsi indicated. He added that their meaningful inclusion in decision-making processes is also key to the commitment in the 2030 Agenda to “leave no one behind”. Mr Ahonsi said that the UN has increased its call for all countries to reduce violence and resolve disputes peacefully while promoting social inclusion, addressing the justice needs of people and reducing polarization and distrust. “We will continue to count on Sierra Leone to develop its own strategy for violence prevention in this crucial period for the country’s democracy to prevent the recurrence of the unprecedented level of violence experienced on 10 August last year,” he stated. The training facilitated by the Clingendael: Netherlands Institute of International Relations ends on Thursday. It is expected to provide participants with the knowledge to improve their negotiation and consensus-building skills.
1 of 5
14 December 2022
UN in Sierra Leone commemorates Human Rights Day with drama, music & statements.
With a clear message and hope for increased knowledge of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a blueprint for taking concrete action to stand up for human rights, UN Resident Coordinator (RC) Babatunde Ahonsi on Monday, used the United Nations in Sierra Leone-organized Human Rights Day observance to emphasize his point with the "Get Up, stand up, stand up for your right" lyrics of the late reggae musician Bob Marley. Veering from his script, the RC was accompanied in his rendition of the song by the Sierra Leone Correctional Service Band, the University of Sierra Leone Theater Group and the audience composed of Ambassadors, Government of Sierra Leone ministers and other officials, and members of the civil society and the human rights constituency. “We all must ensure that no one is left behind in this journey," Mr Ahonsi said while stressing that the Human Rights Day commemoration this year has a particular significance for all." It launches activities related to the 75th anniversary of the UDHR, to be celebrated on 10 December next year’’. He said there were several ways to support the campaign and that this was the time to make concrete the content and language of the UDHR, with the day marking the culmination of the 16-Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. Stand up for our rights and those of others is one of the calls of the UDHR, the RC said. "We all have a role to play to realize freedom and equality for all at our own levels, in our communities and beyond," he reiterated. Furthermore, "to do so, we need to act in our daily lives to uphold our rights and the rights of others to work together for a more sustainable, just and prosperous world," Mr Ahonsi indicated. He also called for an economy that invests in human rights and works for everyone. Soulef Guessoum, the Officer in Charge, UN Women Sierra Leone, said that her agency would continue to work with partners and across the UN System to strengthen protection for women and girls, including human rights defenders. She called for a redoubling of efforts to make the gender equality law recently passed by the Parliament of Sierra Leone effective and properly implemented, "and this will require additional legal reforms and new policies and protections in place." She reminded the audience that "53% of women in the country experience physical and/or sexual Violence. 30% of young girls are married before reaching the age of 18, and 86 % have been through genital mutilation." Ambassador Manuel Muller, Head of the European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, said human rights are at the heart of the EU's internal and external relations and that the Union upholds and advances human rights worldwide. This year, according to the Ambassador, the EU joined forces with the UN to commemorate the proclamation of the UDHR "and ‘’to reaffirm our commitment to ensure that Human Rights are upheld and respected everywhere." He encouraged electoral management bodies and political actors to continue to increase dialogue and consultation, seeking common ground and building trust based on full transparency. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International cooperation, Madam Mamadi Ngobeh- Kamara said the principles enshrined in the UDHR are as relevant today as they were in 1948 when they were adopted. She highlighted steps taken by the Government to fulfil human rights obligations, including efforts to mitigate sexual and gender-based violence with the introduction of the Sexual Offences Court. She mentioned that Sierra Leone also co-facilitated the UN General Assembly resolution "International Cooperation for Access to Justice, Remedies and Assistance for Survivors of Sexual Violence", which calls on all to promote access to justice, remedies and assistance for victims and survivors of sexual violence. "We believe that tolerance and inclusion are non-negotiable human rights," the Minister reaffirmed. The University of Sierra Leone Theatre Group also performed a play depicting the theme, 'Dignity, freedom and justice for all." Earlier in the same day, Mr Ahonsi made a statement during a programme organized by the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone emphasizing on the promise of dignity and equality in rights, which has been under sustained assault in recent years for various reasons including poverty, insecurity, pandemics, and environmental degradation. “It is equally important that governments and people embrace a shared and comprehensive vision of human rights for a just and sustainable development,” the RC said.
1 of 5
07 December 2022
150 women detainees receive dignity kits & human rights education.
Amid singing and dancing, and after discussions on human rights in detention, 150 women detained at the Female Correctional Center in Freetown were on Friday, 2nd December 2022, presented with dignity kits composed of adult female underwear, tailor-made loose dress(gown), sanitary pads, under pants for girls, loose gown for girls, lappa, flashlight & flashlight batteries, toothbrush, toothpaste, bathing soap (bar), hand sanitiser, laundry soap, whistle, and slippers donated by the United Nations Population Fund ( UNFPA ). The joint UNFPA-UN Women supported initiative was undertaken as part of activities organized by the UN in Sierra Leone in the context of the the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Christian MUKOSA, the Senior Human Rights Advisor (SHRA) in Sierra Leone, led the team composed of staff from UN Women, UNFPA, the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs, and volunteers from Community Initiative for Peace and Children Foundation (CIPCF), a national NGO. In his presentation, the SHRA emphasised on the right of a person in detention and that being in prison does not mean the end of life. “In prison, you still have your rights to be respected and protected, and this comes with obligations and responsibilities,” Mukosa said and reiterated that human rights are for everyone and that no one should be left behind. UN Women and UNFPA representatives explained their mandates and work and the significance of the 16-Days of Activism against GBV. The counsellor from CIPCF reflected on trauma and the need for support to all women in prison. This was echoed by the Director of the Female Correctional Center and in the statement of the Deputy Director General of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service. During the plenary session, some of the detainees explained their understanding of human rights and the 16 Days of Activism and asked clarification questions about their rights in prison. They expressed happiness and requested more outreach activities within their detention facility. Aminata Turay, the Gender Focal Point at the facility said that GBV prevention education is also vital in the Correctional Centre. “All I need is gender empowerment,” she concluded to the applause of other inmates.
1 of 5
01 December 2022
UN Women-supported Sierra Leone Armed Forces report on measuring opportunities for women in peacekeeping launched.
On Wednesday, UN Resident Coordinator (UN RC) Mr. Babatunde Ahonsi assured the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) and development partners that the UN system would continue working on efforts leading to a higher representation of the forces’ women in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Additionally, he promised the support of the UN in the follow-up interventions emerging from the assessment. Speaking at the official launch of the RSLAF 2022 Report on Results of the Measuring Opportunities for Women in Peace Operations (MOWIP) Assessment and in the wake of the recent enactment of the gender equality and women’s empowerment law, Mr. Ahonsi acknowledged successful efforts to increase the number of women during the last five years. “Currently, women make up 12% of the armed forces compared to 6% in 2018. The percentage doubled in four years,” the RC said and congratulated the RSLAF leadership for that. He noted that the increased participation of women in peacekeeping operations has been shown to improve the effectiveness of missions, ensure better access to local communities, particularly women, and enhanced the promotion of human rights and protection of civilians. According to the RC, the report will “provide an evidence base for future engagements to do things differently to achieve increased women’s participation and representation in all levels of peace operations.” To address some of the challenges identified in the report, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Lt. General P.K. Lavahun, in his remarks, said that the RSLAF will take bold affirmative actions to address these barriers both as an institution and jointly with support from partners, like UN Women and the Elsie Initiative Fund. He announced that he had directed the appointment of a female officer to sit as a member at the Ministry of Defence/RSLAF decision-making Committee. Also, he stated, “the appointment of a female officer as a Battalion Second-in-Command to bring more women into senior leadership roles.” The CDS said this would be on-going based on their fast-tracked capacity building and positioning in the leadership spectrum. Lt. General Lavahun also said the report holds vital lessons for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and RSLAF in renewing their attention to the barriers and imbalances that hold down the upward mobility of women in their quest for equality and meaningful participation in peace operations. “The MoD/RSLAF’s Expression of Interest to the Elsie Secretariat Steering Committee was motivated by our commitment to overcome gendered hierarchies and stereotypes and the need to address systemic and structural barriers, with the support of the Elsie Fund,” the CDS disclosed. The assessment was welcomed by Lt General Lavahun with calls for UN Women, the Elsie Initiative Fund’s Secretariat, and its partners to support the RSLAF to overcome those barriers and chart clear pathways to make progress in the deployment of women to UN Peace Support Operations. The assessment used four data collection tools: a fact-finding form (FFF), key decision-maker interviews, a focus group with women personnel, and a survey. It examined the Force’s ability to deploy women to and ensure their meaningful participation in UN peacekeeping through ten issue areas. Data collection was from November 2021 to February 2022. The report revealed the statistics of the current female strength in the RSLAF is 12%, and those on UN peacekeeping are close to 28% within the armed forces. The ceremony was chaired by Ms. Valnora Edwin, President of Africa Women Leaders Network. She said the report was timely coming in the wake of the GEWE Law enactment and congratulated the RSLAF on the venture. Ms. Edwin also hoped that the barriers identified in the report and the associated recommendations for addressing them would be used by RSLAF leadership to significantly improve women’s representation in UN peace operations and the Forces as a whole. The report was launched by the Director General of the Ministry of Defence, Mr. Mohamed Daboh. Elsie Initiative Fund for Uniformed Women in Peace operations funded the research.
1 of 5
30 November 2022
IOM facilitates the safe return of 149 Sierra Leoneans stranded in Niger
Last week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) assisted 149 Sierra Leonean migrants stranded in Niger to return home safely via charter flight. IOM worked in close coordination with the Government of Sierra Leone to facilitate this dignified return. Even before the scheduling of the flight, returnees underwent a special online verification exercise by Sierra Leone’s Immigration Department to ascertain their nationalities. Upon arrival, IOM staff registered the returnees and provided cash assistance for their immediate needs, as well as food, water, and onward transportation. In the coming weeks, they will receive reintegration assistance that will address their economic, social, and psychosocial needs, with several types of support tailored to their needs and interests. From 2017 to 2022, more than 5,000 Sierra Leoneans stranded along migration routes have been assisted to voluntarily return home. Sierra Leone is among the top five countries in West Africa, with the highest number of returns of stranded migrants in 2022. “Too many young Sierra Leoneans embark on high-risk journeys through irregular migration. Thanks to the EU and the Government for their support. To be able to cover the needs of vulnerable Sierra Leoneans stranded abroad, collective action is needed now to support their return home and reintegration options,” said Christos Christodoulides, Head of Office a.i. at IOM Sierra Leone. Joseph, 23, is returning home after 2 years abroad. He shared with us how his journey unfolded. Before attempting the 'back way' to seek new opportunities in Europe, he was completing senior secondary school. Now he wants to make up for the lost time. " Thanks for the opportunity of returning safely. I am glad that I am back and hope to be able to continue my education," he says. Dave Bangura drew lessons from his challenging journey and is now hopeful for a better future at home. “Irregular migration is not worth it. I suffered a lot in the desert as I attempted to go to Europe. You can make a living here if you have the skills & work hard. During my travels, I have seen people with valuable skills succeed,” said Dave.” If I should travel at all, I will instead use regular channels. But my immediate plans now are to start a business at home,” he added. The charter flight was made possible thanks to the Special Measure for the European Union-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Africa under the Neighbourhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe (NDICI- Global Europe)
1 of 5
12 September 2022
1 / 11