Media Briefing by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon. Maite Nkoana-Mshabane, on relief efforts for the Republic of Sierra Leone. Wednesday, 23 August 2017, OR Tambo Building, Pretoria
Thank you Programme Director;
Hon Minister D Van Rooyen;
Senior officials present;
Ladies and gentlemen of the media
We invited you here today to update you on the efforts of the South African Government, working with other stakeholders, to provide relief to the people of Sierra Leone who have suffered severely as a result of a natural disaster.
The South African Government would like to once again express deepest and heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of the Republic of Sierra Leone following one of the worst floods in our continent. This natural disaster has devastated significant parts of Sierra Leone’s capital, resulting in massive loss of life, destruction of property and leaving behind a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.
The President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma, has made an appeal for urgent help to support the thousands of people affected by the disaster.
The Chairperson of the AU Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, has also appealed to all Africans and the diaspora, as well as to international partners, to support Sierra Leone and its public health system respond to this disaster, which occurred only two years after the country successfully dealt with the deadliest Ebola outbreak in living memory.
In line with the spirit of solidarity underpinned by Ubuntu, the South African Government has decided to respond positively to Sierra Leone’s appeal for humanitarian assistance.
South Africa’s initial plan was to send a Search, Rescue and Recovery operation team under its Urban Search and Rescue team (USAR-South Africa). This team has a classified recognition status from the United Nation’s International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG).
This means the team is now officially recognised by the international community as being equipped and skilled to respond to major emergency incidents and disasters both locally and internationally in order to provide assistance to victims.
However, yesterday (22 August 2017), the President of Sierra Leone, HE Ernest Bai Koroma, made a declaration suspending the Search, Rescue and Recovery operation. This is due to difficulties and constraints relating to weather conditions and the state of bodies recovered. Therefore, the South African Government will not be dispatching a Humanitarian Response Team for Search, Rescue and Recovery Operation. Instead, we are announcing an initial financial contribution of R8 million for humanitarian assistance through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). This contribution is for the provision of materials for temporary shelters, medical supplies and food aid. The WFP is already on the ground in Sierra Leone has been identified for this purpose as it has the requisite expertise and experience to execute this function.
This will not be the only contribution we are making. Accordingly, we would like to this take this opportunity to humbly make an appeal to the South African people, in their personal capacities and as members of organisations, to join the efforts to assist the sisterly people of Sierra Leone in this hour of need. The donations can be made in the following manner:
SMS the Word Relief to this number 38510. All SMS will be at the cost of R10.
We are supporting efforts of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent who are already on the ground in Sierra Leone through the South African Red Cross Society.
Make your donations by using the following banking details:
Account name: The South African Red Cross
Bank name: Standard Bank
Account number: 001 35 5929
Branch code: 051001
Reference: Sierra Leone Relief
Allow me to thank all the stakeholders who have generously agreed to play a part in this campaign. The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) through its foundation has availed its radio, online and television platforms to publicise this drive. Our gratitude also go to MTN for assisting us at short notice to set up the facility to allow the public to make contributions. We call upon other corporates to get involved.
In conclusion, it is important to say that the disaster in Sierra Leone is yet another indication that the effects of climate change come at a devastating cost, and the international community must work collectively and with the requisite urgency to implement multilateral decisions agreed to. In particular, the Durban Climate Change Conference outcomes that resulted in the historic Paris Climate Change Conference agreement.
The cost of avoiding to take responsibility are very high, and the people in developing countries are mostly exposed to the catastrophic effects of climate change.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road