Remarks at the Launch of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) by Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, United Nations Resident Coordinator
Your Excellency, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maida Bio, President of Sierra Leone,
National Security Coordinator, Rtd. Lt. General Brima Bureh Sesay,
Director General of the Disaster Management Agency, Rtd. Brig. General Jao Jah Tucker,
World Bank Country Manager, Ms. Gayle Martin,
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Recent history has shown the vulnerabilities of Sierra Leone to natural disasters. With climate change and environmental degradation, Sierra Leone’s fragility may yet increase. In this regard, I welcome the timeliness of establishing the National Disaster Management Agency, which underscores the unwavering commitment of the Government to safeguard the well-being of all Sierra Leoneans.
The Office of the National Security has performed a pivotal role in coordinating responses to disasters in recent years, including the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak, the 2017 mudslide, and numerous flooding incidents in 2019. I welcome that the National Disaster Management Agency would be able to leverage the learnings from these disasters and the accomplishments and institutional expertise of the Office of the National Security, particularly of the Disaster Management Department. On this foundation, I hope that the newly established Agency will be able to accomplish its key role in coordinating Government counterparts and partners, including the United Nations, NGOs, local leaders and other actors to mitigate and respond to disasters effectively. The United Nations stands ready to provide support and to continue building on the effective partnerships with the ONS Disaster Management Department.
Sierra Leone stands out among all countries in the world with 100 percent of its population living in high climate exposed areas, according to a USAID report. Environmental degradation, particularly in the Western Area is also exacerbating natural vulnerability to disasters. It is thus crucial for the National Disaster Management Agency to work in close collaboration with government counterparts, partners, and the United Nations to scale up and strengthen disaster mitigation measures to protect the most vulnerable, ensuring that no one is left behind.
Considering the high risks posed by disasters in Sierra Leone, there is a need to allocate a dedicated budget for disaster mitigation, preparedness and response. Given high levels of poverty, a key success factor of the Agency would be to ensure that relief is provided to the most vulnerable as quickly as possible, adhering to the global standard of support within 72 hours after a disaster occurs.
The United Nations in Sierra Leone stands ready towards building the capacities and capabilities to rapidly and robustly respond to disasters, building skills in information management, coordination, operational readiness and response; in addition to providing life-saving assistance to those most in need. The 2017 landslide response was a testimony of the strong partnership between Government and the United Nations and we look forward to continued partnerships with the National Disaster Management Agency and the Office of National Security.
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL : REMARKS ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
25 November 2020
Excellencies, dear friends,
I am pleased to join you on this important day for the United Nations and for the world.
Violence against women and girls is a pervasive global human rights challenge, rooted in unequal gender power relations, structural inequality and discrimination.
That is why we launched the global UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign.
The COVID-19 crisis has further exposed violence against women and girls as a global emergency requiring urgent action.
Rates of violence, in particular domestic violence, have dramatically escalated around the world.
It is clear that the pandemic has exacerbated risk factors and laid bare the shortcomings of previous efforts to prevent and respond to this shocking emergency.
In April this year, I urged the international community to end the shadow pandemic of gender-based violence once and for all, and make prevention and the redress of violence a key part of national responses to COVID-19.
My appeal was answered with strong commitment and support from 146 Member States and Observers.
I reiterated and relaunched that appeal several times; I do it again today.
I have been heartened to see so many governments taking action to address gender-based violence during COVID-19.
Today we will hear from Member States about just some of these promising practices, ranging from funding and support for critical services and innovative justice sector responses, to awareness campaigns that challenge harmful gender stereotypes and norms.
Efforts to date have not only involved States.
Civil society partners and grassroots women’s rights organizations have been indispensable in preventing and responding to violence against women and girls in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Generation Equality Forum and its Action Coalitions, led by diverse and interdisciplinary leadership teams, will work to deliver concrete and transformative change across six critical themes, including an Action Coalition specifically targeting gender-based violence.
This year the United Nations flagship Spotlight Initiative, in partnership with the European Union, has expanded to three new subregions, investing in prevention and transformative sustainable solutions aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals.
However, much work remains to be done.
Millions of women are being pushed further into poverty by the COVID-19 crisis, and all forms of violence against them are rising.
In this context, the global community must continue to build on the momentum we have created to prioritize the voices, experiences and needs of women and girls.
We must take into account the needs of women who experience violence, particularly those who face multiple and intersecting forms of violence and discrimination.
This means emerging from this crisis with women’s leadership front and centre in constructing the solutions we need.
Our priorities must first and foremost include urgent and flexible funding for women’s rights organizations, who so often act as first responders during crises.
It is critical that services for survivors are regarded as essential and remain open, with adequate resources and measures in place to support health and social services to care for survivors of violence.
Programming should also prioritize the quality and continuity of police and justice sector responses.
But measures should not only focus on intervening once violence has occurred.
They should aim to reduce the risk of violence occurring in the first place.
This includes providing financial and material support to women and households; encouraging positive messaging around gender equality, stereotypes and norms; supporting access to mental health services; and engaging key stakeholders, including women and girls, men and boys, and traditional and faith-based leaders.
The more we know about the gender-based violence, the more we can effectively address it.
For this reason, measures should also focus on supporting institutions to collect and analyze data, where it is safe and ethical to do so.
We have already made much progress in highlighting violence against women and girls as one of the most pressing issues of our time.
But we must go further – much further.
Violence against women and girls is a horrible and widespread affront to their human rights, and a blight on all our societies.
Let us all UNiTE to end the violence during COVID-19 and beyond.
Statement by Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi at the UN Day @ 75 Partners Event
Statement by Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi at the UN Day @ 75 Partners Event 20201022 UN Day RC Partners Event Speech
UNITED NATIONS SIERRA LEONE Babatunde Ahonsi, UN Resident Coordinator Statement | UN Day Partners Event
His Excellency President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio
Honourable Vice-President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh,
Honourable Nabeela Tunis, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,
Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps,
Distinguished Representatives of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies,
UN Colleagues, all protocols observed.
I am delighted to welcome you, on behalf of the United Nations in Sierra Leone, to this annual celebration of UN Day, which is especially profound this year, as it is the 75th anniversary of the founding of the organization.
Our annual UN Day celebration is an opportunity for the United Nations Country Team to thank the Government of Sierra Leone, representatives of Member States and other international and national partners for your friendship throughout the year. Your continued engagement in support of the global aims of the United Nations is ever more important, as highlighted by recent events and the need to come together as a global community to address the challenges of our time.
Since its origin in 1945, the UN has been an unparalleled institution to foster dialogue, understanding, information exchange, human development, conflict resolution and peace. Without the ongoing, committed engagement of countries around the world, the many achievements of the UN system these past decades would not have been possible.
Sierra Leone, and all other UN Member States joining with us today fulfill the promise of the UN system, by contributing resources, knowledge and ingenuity, and compassion for those facing hardship, poverty, or discrimination. By participating in the global community that is the United Nations, individual countries amplify their power to create a better world.
The past few months have been a time of great disruption due to the unprecedented global health crisis and related impacts. The paramount role of UN institutions in addressing global challenges like COVID-19 has never been clearer.
Before I proceed, allow me quote the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “Around the world, we must do more to end human suffering from poverty, inequality, hunger and hatred. We face colossal challenges. With global solidarity and cooperation, we can overcome them. That’s what the United Nations is all about.”
The Secretary General’s remarks echo my own sentiments that we must join together as individuals and as nations like never before to fight the complex challenges of our time, including climate change, pervasive income inequality, and COVID-19.
We take this moment to recognize and stand in solidarity with all those in Sierra Leone and around the world whose lives have been impacted by the devastating health, social, and economic consequences of COVID-19.
At the same time, we know that if the world bands together to share information, maximize the reach of technology and equitably channel the world’s financial resources, we can make great progress in fighting the disease and its impacts.
UN agencies and funds are proud to be partnering with the Government of Sierra Leone and collaborating with other development partners to support the country’s committed COVID-19 health response plan and Quick Action Economic Recovery Plan. We will expand on these efforts in the near-term by putting forth a plan to contribute to social and economic recovery in Sierra Leone, consistent with the global recovery vision of the UN Secretary-General. UN agencies also stand ready to support the country in acquiring and administering a COVID-19 vaccine, once available.
Through our collective efforts, we are confident that Sierra Leone will emerge from this exceptional period to build back better, benefiting from the courage and resiliency we have seen from the people of Sierra Leone time and time again. It is their strength and determination that will inspire and guide our work going forward.
Having just taken up my post one month ago, I see so many opportunities for development of Sierra Leone in line with the SDGs and commit myself to build the partnerships and garner the resources to seize these opportunities, drawing not only on the expertise and capabilities of the UN team in country, but also on the wide range of resources available throughout the global UN system.
Modern technology makes accessing these resources easier than ever, as we have all experienced with the recent shift towards virtual meetings necessitated by COVID-19. The UN Country Team and other Partners have quickly adapted to these communication tools for connecting with counterparts around the world so that their expertise can benefit Sierra Leone in areas such as public health, social protection, distance learning for children, and coordinated movement of people, commodities, and medical supplies.
Similar opportunities exist across the spectrum for use of technology to accelerate development, for example, through financial digitalization, use of unmanned aerial vehicles, and real-time reporting of health and other data from remote locations, ensuring that no one is left behind. Technology fosters development and livelihood opportunities for youth and allows them to fulfil their potential as positive change agents, helping also to stem the tide of irregular migration among youth. Despite the dangers surrounding irregular migration and trafficking, youth from Sierra Leone still embark on backway journeys in search of better economic opportunities in Europe, and this requires increasing efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers.
The UN Country Team in Sierra Leone – with twenty-three resident and three non-resident UN agencies, funds and programmes, together with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank – continues to support the Government in its efforts to achieve the SDGs and ensure that all citizens can fulfill their potential in an environment of respect for human rights and human dignity, gender equality, and empowerment of women and girls. We are committed to support implementation of the country’s Medium-Term National Development Plan that is rooted in the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Achieving the SDGs is essential for long-term peace and stability of societies, and it is incumbent upon all layers of society to work towards the achievement of all goals. We, therefore, call upon national institutions; political parties; political, religious and traditional leaders; non-governmental and civil society organizations; and not least national and international private business to commit to the SDGs and work together for their attainment.
We commend the Government of Sierra Leone for their special commitment to SDG 16, dedicated to fostering peaceful, just and inclusive societies free from fear and violence. Without peace there can be no development, and without development, there can be no peace. Let each of us hold that thought closely as we fulfill our day-to-day responsibilities as leaders, civil servants, diplomats and professionals, so that no one issue or incident escalates to the point where it jeopardizes the hard won peace and security that prevails in the country today.
This peace has allowed the country to come together to fight the common enemy of COVID-19 and its consequences. All parts of society must commit to a spirit of tolerance and respect for human rights and to continue regular dialogue as a precondition for both peace and achievement of Agenda 2030.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me now turn back to the UN system and congratulate the World Food Programme for being the 101st proud recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. We celebrate that the 59-year-old agency was given the prize for its efforts to combat hunger and improve conditions for peace. Here in Sierra Leone, the WFP has worked to address hunger and promote food security whether during the war, natural disasters, the Ebola outbreak, or currently, by meeting needs of vulnerable communities during COVID-19.
We are grateful that this prize brings the world’s attention to this important work and use the opportunity to also turn the stoplight on critical challenges that Sierra Leone and other countries face in terms of hunger, highlighted by a recent UN study reporting an alarming rise in food insecurity in Sierra Leone. We pledge to work with local and global partners to address this challenge not only in the short term, but over the long-term by building the systems, knowledge, and resources to combat hunger.
The UN is marking its 75th anniversary. Will the world emerge stronger and better equipped to work together? Or will distrust and isolation grow further? 2020 must be a year of dialogue when we come together to craft a better future for all. The same is true in Sierra Leone.
To Build Back Better, let us all pledge here today to do out utmost to fulfill the aims of the UN made 75 years ago – maintaining peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering aid especially to the most vulnerable, promoting sustainable development, and upholding international law—for the benefit of Sierra Leoneans and all persons around the world.
Remarks at the Inaugural Dialogue Between the Civil Society Organizations and Government of Sierra Leone
by Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, United Nations Resident Coordinator : 20201028 RC Speech CSO Dialogue
Statement by the RCO, Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi at the launch event for Strengthening Domestic Resources Mobilization for SDGs Financing in Sierra Leone
Statement by Mr. Berhanemeskel Nega, Deputy Head of Mission and Chief Political Affairs, UNIPSIL. At the Opening of the National Commitment Consultative Conference on the 2012 elections – 26 September 2012
Statement made by Mr. Berhanemeskel Nega , Deputy Head of Mission and Chief Political Affairs, United Nations Integrated Peace building Office in Sierra Leone, at stakeholders dialogue on elections, conflict prevention and youth violence in the Mano River Union – 26 July 2012
Hate Speech, A Receipe for Instability Before, During and After Elections delivered by Nana K. A. Busia Jr, Chief Democratic Institutions on behalf of the ERSG at the National Dialogue Forum – 26 June 2012
Statement by Mr. Berhanemeskel Nega , Officer- in Charge, United Nations Integrated Mission in Sierra Leone in the All Political Parties Youth Association (APPYA) Delegates Conference – 3 December 2010.
Security Council Presidential Statements
19 August 2006 – was the statement on peace consolidation in West Africa requesting, inter alia, a report with recommendations on the cooperation between the United Nations missions deployed in the region and on the cross-border issues in West Africa.