UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Filipino Grandi has commended Sierra Leone for its efforts to end statelessness, and for taking actions to integrate refugees into the country, and getting refugees to return in dignity and safety to their countries of origin. He made these commendations following the well received statement by Minister of State, Dr Mohamed Gibril Sesay at the 68th Plenary session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioners Programme, in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday 3 October 2016.
The UN Commissioner praised Sierra Leone for successfully concluding its refugee Programme, the result of which is the phasing out of the UNHCR Programme in the country in December 2017. He wished Sierra Leone’s commitments and success were emulated worldwide.
In his address, Dr. Sesay on behalf of His Excellency The President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, the Government and People of Sierra Leone, called on the assembled nations to live up to commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey in Istanbul in May 2016, and the binding obligations of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. Relating to actions taken by Sierra Leone to meets its international obligations, the Minister stated in 2016, the Government of Sierra Leone ratified two key conventions to address the status of stateless persons and to reduce the incidence of statelessness in Sierra Leone. These two conventions are: the 1954 Convention on the Status of Stateless persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
The Minister of State also stated that: ”the triggers of refuge seeking and refugees are expanding beyond the original phenomenal war and political conflict that led to the founding of the UNHCR. Very noticeable in this regard is that Displacements and refuge seeking now involve extreme weather events and climate change. in Sierra Leone, on 14 August 2017 landslide and flooding disaster claimed the lives of over 500 of our compatriots and about 4,000 people left displaced.
In many other lands, these extreme weather events and climate are creating climate refugees and displaced persons. Also, the rise of xenophobic extremism, criminal networks along migrations routes and disregarding for international norms are transforming people who may be voluntary migrants on leaving their homes into refugees.
Sierra Leone’s Programme for refugees is coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Commission for Social Action. The Commissioner of NaCSA, Mr Alie Badara Mansaray said ‘’It is great that Sierra Leone is being commended at the highest levels for its humanitarian interventions, and reiterated his Commission’s commitment to supporting vulnerable persons within Sierra Leone.’