Netherland supports repatriation of Sierra Leoneans at home

By- Ralph Ese’Donnu Sawyerr
The issue of Sierra Leonean refugees at The Netherlands has again taken the centre stage during a discussion held between the Ambassadors of the two countries in Dakar.
The discussion was a logical follow up to several held in the past between the two governments that culminated in recommendations by The Netherlands for the repatriation of refugees to Sierra Leone.
“My government is enquiring as to what has happened to those recommendations” He asked and went further to demand that actions should be seen taking on the part of your Government,” the Dutch Ambassador Gerben de Jong enquired from Her Excellency Khadijatu Bassir.
Responding, Ambassador Bassir acquiesced that there were a number of Sierra Leonean refugees and illegal immigrants in the Netherlands but sometimes the outcome of investigations will only showcase four out of ten alleged illegal aliens. She recalled was her experience while serving in Brussels.
It could be recalled that foreign Affairs Ministry and Immigration Department officials of both Countries have visited and screened refugees to ascertain their nationalities.

Her Excellency Khadijatu Bassir and the Dutch Ambassador Gerben de Jong

Ambassador Bassir explained that during the civil conflict, most of her country’s passports ended in the wrong hands, especially to nationals of other West African Countries.”
She assured Ambassador de Jong that her government has not set aside the issue, but awaiting Cabinet attention.
At the end of the discussion, the two diplomats agreed to take a fresh and closer look at the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the United Kingdom and Sierra Leone with regards refugees and to draw from those experiences with the view to restarting the repatriation process.
The Dutch envoy revealed plans by his government to assist in the repatriation process and also to provide technical training for returnees to help them stand on their own once they return to Sierra Leone.
Furthermore, the two diplomats discussed social and economic phenomenon in their respective countries as well as youth unemployment, business, tourism, peace and how to foster closer relationship and cooperation.
Ambassador de Jong recounted his visit to Sierra Leone and described it as hospitable. He said that Sierra Leone is a beautiful country with lots of investment potentials that business people in both countries can tap into.
“You people just need to add value to your products, especially diamonds and create a bureau in your country so that people can buy directly from it,” he suggested.
Ambassador de Jong supported Ambassador Bassir’s yeaning for President Koroma to win a second mandate considering the “immense work” he is doing for his country.
Her Excellency Ambassador Khadijatu Bassir commended the government and people of the Netherlands for their years of stability that had kept them out of negative news.
On the issue of peace, “Sierra Leone since the end of the civil conflict never had very negative flash point,” Ambassador Bassir concluded. She was accompanied by the Head of Chancery Sahr Johnny.

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