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Govít is Telling Lies; Sierra Leone Citizens are Dying in Libya
By Abdul Fonti
Apr 1, 2011, 17:14
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Hundreds of Sierra Leoneans are still left stranded in the war-torn North African country of Libya. Since the deadly conflict erupted in that part of the world a couple of weeks ago, not a single Sierra Leonean national has been repatriated back to Sierra Leone or to any other part of the world. This situation has left relatives of the stranded Sierra Leoneans back home in a worrisome state with no idea of what will happen to their family members as the deadly fight intensifies between the government and rebel forces.

 

As all of this is happening, the All Peopleís Congress (APC) led Government of Sierra Leone is yet to make any realistic effort in locating and rescuing Sierra Leoneans living in that country.

 

While other African countries like Nigeria, Ghana and even neighboring Guinea have since instituted pragmatic efforts to repatriate their citizens, government officials here in Sierra Leone are busy politicking the whole issue at the expense of the lives of hundreds of its citizens. It is over a month now since this brouhaha started and the government of Sierra Leone is yet to present a single citizen that has been repatriated from Libya. What a disgusting shame!

Worst of it, the government is engaged in a massive propaganda spree that runs in total contrast with the correspondences from Sierra Leoneans trapped in Libya.

 

Reports monitored from Libya clearly indicate that the APC led government is not telling the truth about the status of Sierra Leoneans in Libya. The government is lying about the status of those Sierra Leoneans either because it has no idea about the status of its citizens or lacks the diplomatic knowhow and connections to get its citizens out of the troubled zone. Some people even have cause now to believe that the government is not saying the truth because it is in the nature of its officials to toy with issues of national importance.

 

Initially, the Sierra Leone Embassy in Libya urged all legal Sierra Leonean residents in Libya to register with the embassy for possible repatriation. This happened at a time when the no-fly-zone sanction was yet to be imposed on Libya. It was around this same time that other countries moved into action to repatriate their valued citizens.

 

A total of one hundred and twenty-five Sierra Leoneans registered with the embassy and that was the end of it. Nothing has happened further than registration process. Even when other countries are busy repatriating their citizens by road and sea on the imposition of the no-fly-zone sanction, Sierra Leoneans are still left stranded with no hope of being repatriated.

 

A recent government press release on the status of Sierra Leoneans in Libya made believe that the trapped citizens prefer to die in Libya than to be evacuated to Sierra Leone. ďHowever, 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,Ē the government press release stated. But who will believe this, especially when the Chairman of the Sierra Leone Community in Libya, Sallieu Mansaray, is insisting that such an assertion by the government is nothing to go by? According to Sallieu Mansaray, ninety percent of the registered Sierra Leoneans with legal documents in Libya have consented to pay their travelling expenses to Tunisia if only the Sierra Leone Ambassador to Libya will facilitate for them to be welcomed by the United Nations on their arrival in Tunisia. Sadly, the Sierra Leone Ambassador to Libya, Abu Bakarr Jalloh, is nowhere to be found, and unconfirmed reports have it that he had since fled Libya.

 

The government press release furthered that a total of forty Sierra Leoneans have expressed willingness to be evacuated. Sounds good, but where are these Sierra Leoneans? How many of them have been repatriated to Freetown or to any other part of the world? None.

 

An attempt by the APC led government to claim credit for the repatriation of twenty three Sierra Leoneans from the troubled Libyan capital of Tripoli to the Tunisian border has also been exposed as a cheap lie. The Deputy Chairman of the Sierra Leone Committee in Libya Joseph Peters has told newsmen that the repatriation exercise was coordinated by the Sierra Leonean committee in Tripoli with aid from International Office for Migration (IOM). While the government is deceitfully claiming credit for repatriating twenty-three people to the Tunisian border, the repatriated Sierra Leoneans are bitterly expressing their disappointment over what they described as the failure of government to save the lives of its citizens.


The least said about other Sierra Leoneans living in Libya with irregular documentations the better.

 

Bottom-line, this is a clear indication that the Sierra Leone Government is not capable of protecting the lives of its citizens in other countries. To the government therefore, I say telling lies about the status of Sierra Leoneans in Libya is no sure way of addressing the plights of your citizens. Institute realistic efforts now to repatriate your citizens or keep quiet and allow your citizens to die in peace. Stop making a mockery of the situation, please.

 

My stranded Sierra Leonean brothers and sisters keep your faith in God and you will come out of Libya alive.


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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