British Ambassador accredited near Monrovia, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet has described as “remarkable,” the United Kingdom’s impact on the lives of Liberians in the post-war era.
Ambassador Cochrane-Dyet took over the British Embassy in Liberia on October 14, 2013, when it was reopened after being closed for 22 years.
In an interview with journalists following a trip in Tubmanburg, Bomi County on January 23, 2014, Ambassador Cochrane-Dyet said, “It was important for me as a diplomat to get out of Monrovia to go into the counties so we can see the situation on the ground ourselves. It is important that we come here because the United Kingdom (UK) has an aid program here, which costs about US$15 million.”
He said that the United Kingdom also contributes to the operations of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to the tune of US$42 million, including Europe-Aid, which is approximately US$250 million.
He said that UK’s development assistance comes to the government, citing the Buchanan road project completed about a year and a half ago, as one of the projects his country contributed to.
The UK, Ambassador Cochrane-Dyet explained, contributes to the works of UNHCR, UNDP, and other UN agencies in Liberia, as well; so, to maintain a clear picture of unfolding events as to how aid sent here is impacting Liberians, he has to get out in the field.
During the trip to Bomi, the British Ambassador visited the Superintendent’s office, the Scottish-based aid program, Mary’s Meals, and the residence of Rev. Fth. Gareth Jenkins, Priest of St. Dominic Catholic Mission in Tubmanburg.
Sharing his impression about the trip, Ambassador Cochrane-Dyet said he was glad for the impact Mary’s Meals is making in the lives of ordinary people, especially students of various schools, including the deaf in Bomi, Gbarpolu and Cape Mount.
Mary’s Meals is a school feeding program catering to schools in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu Counties.
Thousands of students in these counties are fed by Mary’s Meals with rice and beans in their various schools; that, according to the Assistant Country Director, Joseph Flomo Goelo, is immensely helping to keep the students in schools amid hunger.
Mary’s Meals also caters for 79 deaf students who live on the dormitory prepared by the organization. They are undergoing both academic and vocational skills training program including tailoring, carpentry and agriculture.
Earlier, Bomi County Samuel Brown stated that though the county has fertile soil that could produce more food, citizens of the county heavily depend on imported rice and locally produced food stuff from Duala Market in Montserrado County for feeding.
Impressed by the output of the deaf students couple with project proposals submitted by the Oscar Romero School (Home of Mary’s Meals), the Ambassador said that they at the British Embassy, were going to discuss and come out with whatever assistance they can render to complement the effort being made to help such disadvantaged Liberians.
He lauded the UK humanitarian organization for its work in Bomi and said the success is gained mainly because Liberians themselves were demonstrating patriotism through commitment to the job.
Ambassador Cochrane-Dyet did not comment on what was discussed behind close door with Catholic Priest Gareth Jenkins. He toured the Catholic compound and visited the mass grave of about 300 children who died from starvation in Tubmanburg when that area was being controlled by defunct rebel group, ULIMO-J of deceased Roosevelt Johnson.
It is not also clear what Ambassador Cochrane-Dyet and Bomi County Superintendent, Samuel Brown, discussed behind closed door as Journalists were asked out.
However, Superintendent Brown had earlier underscored initiation of girls in the Sande Society as one key challenge facing the county in terms of youth education.