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:
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.
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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.
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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)
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29 November 2022
Sierra Leone's President assures IFAD Executive Board that Agriculture will not be left behind.
On Friday, Executive Board members of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) were assured by President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone that though his government during his first term have started a revolution in education, agriculture will not be left behind. He gave this assurance during a courtesy call at State House by the board members. They were accompanied by the Resident Coordinator Babatunde Ahonsi, IFAD's Associate Vice President Donald Brown and other colleagues. The team's visit, according to the President, will bring added value to the thinking process of the government in terms of addressing food sufficiency and existing gaps in supporting large-scale agriculture. "We have a youth bulge, and it (agriculture) will be the largest employer if we approach it properly. It will also stimulate broad-based economic development as is being done in other places," the President said. With over five million hectares of arable land and handsome rainfall every year, with some amount of irrigation, according to President Bio, Sierra Leone should be able to feed itself. He also said that the country was spending a lot on importing rice, and his next term in office would be dedicated to agriculture. "We must see an agriculture revolution here as we have seen for education," the President said. Executive Board member and Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the Rome-based UN agencies, Dr Yaya Olaniran, informed the President that the Board members saw firsthand the impact of IFAD's investments in agriculture during their interactions with the beneficiaries on their visits to project sites across the country. These interactions, according to Olaniran, who also is the spokesperson for the visiting delegation, involved more women and producers. The meeting with the President climaxed a week-long visit to Sierra Leone, where the delegation visited Rural Finance and Community Improvement Programme and Agriculture Value Chain Development Project activities in Bo, Kenema, Mile 91, and Lungi in Sierra Leone. IFAD is one of the most active donors in the country's agriculture sector. To date, the Fund has invested US$171.25 million in nine projects and programmes in the country benefiting 547,500 rural households. The objective of the visit was to promote strategic partnerships with the government and IFAD on agriculture and rural development. The visit was also a good opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of IFAD's work in the field, including the challenges and constraints faced by IFAD-supported operations.
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09 November 2022
New joint border posts inaugurated along Sierra Leone- Guinea border.
With funding from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, two new Joint border posts were on 3rd November, inaugurated by Sierra Leone’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. David Panda-Noah, and the Minister of Territorial Administration & Decentralization of Guinea, Hon. Mory Conde in Falaba District and Faranah Prefecture along the Sierra Leonean -Guinean Border. Witnessing the inauguration of the posts meant to strengthen integrated border management and cross-border cooperation along the border were the Head of IOM Sierra Leone a.i Christos Christodoulides, his Guinean counterpart, Ana Fonseca, other UN officials, community leaders and representatives of the various ministries from both countries. In his statement, Minister Panda- Noah said he was convinced that with the implementation of this project, communities in the Falaba District and the Faranah Prefecture will benefit from the improved cross-border regulations to promote peaceful co-existence between cattle herders and crop farmers. “Bringing people together is a great privilege, and the peacebuilding cross-border posts are important to promote and resolve early warning signs of conflicts in the communities,” the Minister added. Hon. Mory Conde said: “We had identified some conflict issues between farmers and herders in this locality. In addition, in these newly built posts, the transhumance committees will work with authorities and customs officers to reduce the risk of conflict.” He further stressed that the objective of this project is to strengthen the mechanisms for dialogue between Guinea and Sierra Leone and to promote cross-border cooperation. Due to the joint efforts of WFP, IOM, and the NGO- Talking Drums Studio, the IOM Sierra Leone a.i, Christos Christodoulides said that the intervention has made it possible for substantive achievements to be delivered. “We look forward to supporting the government efforts to consolidate and expand integrated border management in Sierra Leone, an approach bringing border management stakeholders together to better deliver,” he stated. IOM Guinea Chief of Mission Ana Fonseca said, “With the construction of these beautiful infrastructures, we have contributed to the creation of a safe space for the exchange of security between the communities and the border security agents. And this enhances effective collaboration between these border communities.” The construction of both border posts’ infrastructure was supported by IOM as part of the project “Building Cross-Border Peace and Strengthening Sustainable Livelihoods of Cattle Herders and Crop Farmers in Sierra Leone and Guinea”. Key features of the border posts were presented during the inauguration, including how their design facilitates safe and orderly movements of people and goods. IOM also used the ceremony to donate police patrol motorcycles and VHF portable radios to enhance the patrolling capacity of border management stakeholders. Koindukura and Heremakonon are hubs where cross-border traders from Sierra Leone and Guinea converge to conduct business on special market days. The newly built border posts will significantly facilitate the safe and orderly movement of migrants and their goods.
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12 September 2022
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