A two-man delegation, comprising the Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, Demba Ali Jawo and the director general of the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Ousman Sowe, returned from a two-day visit to Sierra Leone as special envoys of President Adama Barrow to deliver a special condolence message to President Ernest Bai Koroma on the recent natural calamity that befell the sister Republic of Sierra Leone.
On delivering the message to President Koroma, Minister Jawo, who led the delegation, extended greetings and best wishes to President Koroma and the people of Sierra Leone from President Barrow, whom he said was on a pilgrimage to Mecca. He said the delegation was a follow-up to the letter of condolence earlier sent by President Barrow to President Koroma, expressing sadness and sorrow over the devastating mudslide that struck Sierra Leone on August 14, resulting in considerable loss of life and extensive damage to property.
Minister Jawo went on to express sympathy on behalf of all Gambians, emphasizing on the close social and family bond that exists between the peoples of the two countries, which he said developed since during the colonial era when the two former British colonies were jointly administered. He also recalled the vast number of Gambians that received their higher education in Sierra Leone.
In his response, President Koroma expressed gratitude to President Barrow for the letter of sympathy he had sent earlier and following it up with a special delegation. He said the gesture was a clear manifestation of the need to morally support each other during times of crises. He went on to emphasise the closeness of the peoples of the two countries through family ties and educational pursuits, dating back to several decades.
President Koroma went on to cite the example of a prominent Gambian businessman who he said recently took the decision to extend his business venture to Sierra Leone as a form of giving back to the country for giving him the opportunity to pursue his educational career there.
The President further reiterated the on-going recovery efforts, describing what happened as a natural calamity, which can happen anywhere at any time. He made reference to the recent cases in the US, China, India and Niger that also suffered from natural disasters. He said the situation calls for collaborative efforts and capacity building in disaster management.
The special delegation also later held private discussions with President Koroma during which the need for close collaboration between the two countries, particularly in the areas of security, trade and bilateral cooperation were discussed.
The following day, the delegation was taken on a conducted tour of the disaster site as well as a camp where some of the survivors were temporarily sheltered and being cared for by the government and aid agencies.The delegation returned to Banjul on 1 September 1.