Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 January 2021:
Sierra Leone’s President Dr Julius Maada Bio, yesterday called on UN member states to mobilise support for the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), and has himself pledged $1 million, which he said Sierra Leone will pay annually at a rate of $200,000 over the next five years.
But many Sierra Leoneans are not happy. They say that Sierra Leone is too poor to afford such huge financial outgoing.
President Bio, who joined UN Secretary-General António Guterres (Photo) yesterday, 25 January 2021 as co-chair of a high-level virtual Replenishment Conference for the UN Peacebuilding Fund to mobilise critical support for conflict prevention and peacebuilding against the Fund’s $1.5 billion requirement for the period 2020-24, expressed gratitude to the UN.
“Our nation’s story has been possible partly because of the investments by the Peacebuilding Commission. I, therefore, call on all UN Member States to both renew their commitment to the UN’s peacebuilding efforts and to mobilize adequate, predictable, and sustainable financing for peacebuilding through a broadened donor base.
“In that regard, as a token of our renewed commitment, Sierra Leone pledges Two Hundred Thousand ($200,000) United States Dollars per year over the five-year period to the Peacebuilding efforts of the UN,” he said in his remarks at the opening of the event.
President Bio also thanked the UN and Canada in particular, on behalf of the Government and People of Sierra Leone, for the tremendous impact of the peacebuilding fund in consolidating and sustaining peace in the West African nation, through five peaceful democratic elections cycles and transitions.
“Since the end of the civil war and especially since 2007, Sierra Leone has benefited immensely from the catalytic impact of the Peacebuilding Fund. The PBF supported and is still supporting a wide range of peacebuilding and governance initiatives in Sierra Leone, including institution building for inclusive democratic governance, elections and peaceful democratic transitions, national cohesion, community conflict prevention and resolution, inter-community dialogues, access to justice, protection of human rights, improved security sector coordination, and youth and gender empowerment and inclusion,” he recalled.
Meanwhile, as the country tries to garner support for the government’s proposed Peace Building Commission, the President assured the UN of Sierra Leone’s continued commitment to consolidating and strengthening its democratic and human rights institutions, fostering inclusive and accountable governance, collaborating closely with civil society and communities, promoting access to justice, improving the security and disaster management sectors, making its institutions more accountable and resilient, and implementing strategic activities for inclusive and sustainable development as mapped out in the Medium Term National Development plan.
“Sierra Leone will remain engaged with the PBC in implementing the national priorities of human capital development, economic diversification, climate resilience, strengthening national institutions, developing and supporting the Independent Commission on Peace and National Cohesion, and supporting our nation’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts,” he said.
In January 2010, President Ernest Bai Koroma was heavily criticised and lampooned for pledging $100,000 to Haiti, after an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude struck the poverty-stricken country, killing 250,000 people.
Critics of President Koroma in 2010, accused him of recklessness, saying that Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world that could barely feed itself, cannot afford to donate $100,000 to any country under any circumstances.
Today, President Bio is facing similar criticism – even worse, for offering $1 million to the United Nations to help its peacebuilding initiatives around the world, while over 60% of Sierra Leoneans go hungry.