Envoy says Israel was the first country to get aid to Sierra Leone

Within 24 hours of of hearing from the country’s national security adviser that Sierra Leone needed food for survivors, Israel had sent supplies expected to provide nourishment for three days.

By
August 17, 2017 01:45
3 minute read.
People carry away food and items in Regent town, Sierra Leone

People carry away food and items in Regent town, Sierra Leone. (photo credit: REUTERS/AFOLABI SOTUNDE)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Israel moved to swiftly deliver food aid to disaster-stricken Sierra Leone on Wednesday because it is the “right thing to do,” and because it shows the African countries that they can count on Israel in times of need, said Paul Hirschson, Israel’s envoy to Sierra Leone.

Hirschson, who serves as Israel’s nonresident envoy to a number of West African countries from Israel’s Embassy in Senegal, told The Jerusalem Post from Dakar that Israel was the first country to provide tangible assistance to the country, following devastating floods and mudslides earlier this week that claimed at least 300 lives, and left more than 3,000 people homeless.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The ambassador emphasized the importance of getting the aid into the country quickly, in order to illustrate to desperate citizens that help was on its way and there was reason for hope.

Hirschson said that within 24 hours of hearing from the country’s national security adviser that the country needed food for survivors, Israel had trucks with 20,000 portions of staples like beans and couscous in the capital of Freetown to distribute to those left homeless.

These supplies are expected to provide food for three days.

By being able to deliver the food so quickly, Hirschson said, “we are illustrating to the public that aid is getting through. When you are in these situations, the knowledge that you are not on your own is very important.” This is also important in terms of calming down the situation and ensuring that people don’t riot in search of staples, he said.

According to Hirschson, Israel contacted Sierra Leone with offers of assistance, not the other way around. Sierra Leone’s president, Ernest Bai Koroma, who was in Jerusalem in January, issued a general appeal to the world for assistance, and Hirschson proudly said that Israel was the first country to actually deliver something tangible.

JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:




Asked to explain Israel’s interest in wanting to send aid to the impoverished country, Hirschson said, “First of all, it is the right thing to do. We have the ability, and with a relatively small effort, and relatively small budget, we can make a big difference. That is the first and foremost reason.”

Beyond that, he said, “it is no secret that Israel has put a spotlight on our relations with Africa, and has identified Africa as a diplomatic priority – we believe there is a lot of mutual benefit that can be had in upgrading and improving relations.” This, he said, means standing with African states in difficult times.

“It is easy to stand with them when things are easy,” Hirschson said. “The question is whether you stand by them when things are hard.”

Hirschson pointed out that Sierra Leone was one of the 15 countries that make up the Economic Community of West African States, an organization that – for the first time in its history – invited a non-African head of government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to address it in June at its summit meeting in Liberia.

“This type of invitation does not come out of the blue,” Hirschson said. “This is the first crisis that has happened since that meeting, and now is the time for us to say that we are with them in difficult times.”

Hirschson said that he was in contact with the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem immediately after the floods and mudslides hit on Monday, and it was decided to offer Israel’s aid. He then called Koroma’s national security adviser to discuss what could be done, and it was decided that the two most important aspects of any aid were immediacy and relevancy: to get the aid in as soon as possible, and to make sure that what is sent, is actually what is needed.

Following the food deliveries, the next stage of Israel’s assistance will be to provide antibiotics to deal with concerns of an outbreak of cholera, the envoy said.

Hirschson added that the Foreign Ministry was working closely with NGO IsraAID, an Israeli-based humanitarian aid agency that responds to emergency crises, which has a small team on the ground in Sierra Leone.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

October 21, 2018
Liberman: US sanctions will reduce Iran’s terror financing

By YONAH JEREMY BOB