THE STATUS OF SIERRA LEONEANS IN LIBYA AND IVORY COAST
The Government of Sierra Leone remains committed to its fundamental duty to seek the welfare of all Sierra Leoneans, whether at home or abroad.
Since the outbreak of the politico-military crisis in Libya, the Government has not only been constantly monitoring the situation but has been working out modalities in respect of safeguarding the lives of Sierra Leoneans there.
At the initial stage of the conflict, the Sierra Leone Embassy in Libya issued a statement calling on all Sierra Leoneans in that country to register with the embassy as a first step towards their eventual evacuation. A total of 125 persons got registered. The next step the embassy took was to approach and reach an agreement with the British Government to assist in the evacuation of Sierra Leoneans in Libya.
However, after concluding arrangements with the British Embassy in Libya, most of the registered Sierra Leoneans turned down the offer, stating that they would only agree to be evacuated to either the US or the UK; and that they would rather continue to stay in Libya than return to Sierra Leone.
There were a few who agreed to return but did not have the relevant travel documents. The situation effectively remained in a stalemate until the declaration of Libya as a no-fly zone by the UN Security Council, practically making it impossible for any commercial flight to and from the country.
Notwithstanding, Government maintained an open-door policy for Sierra Leoneans in Libya wishing to return home. Now, a total of 40 have expressed a willingness to be evacuated. Government is pleased to report that travel documents in the form of emergency travel certificates have been secured and provided to all the 40 Sierra Leoneans. Today, 29th March 2011, 23 Sierra Leoneans - mostly women and children - have been transported by bus from Tripoli to the Tunisian border where arrangements have been made with the Head of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which would fly the Sierra Leoneans direct to Freetown. The others will follow in the coming days.
If there is any further clarification needed by members of the public on this issue, contact should be made with either the Ministry of Information and Communications or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Meanwhile, Government is equally concerned about the plight of Sierra Leoneans in the Ivory Coast in the wake of the political stalemate in that country. The need to evacuate Sierra Leoneans and other nationals from the Ivory Coast was discussed in the last ECOWAS meeting in Abuja, and the Sierra Leone Government joined other governments in suggesting methods of repatriation for Sierra Leoneans resident in the Ivory Coast Government will soon despatch an emissary to the Ivory Coast to ensure that those Sierra Leoneans in the Ivory Coast who wish to return home through Ghana would report to the High Commission in Accra.
Government wishes to assure the public that it is trying to establish contact with more Sierra Leoneans stranded in the Ivory Coast.
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN
MINISTRY OF INFORMATION & COMMUNICATIONS
8TH FLOOR, YOUYI BUILDING
29TH MARCH 2011