Egypt’s Assistant Foreign Minister for African Affairs, Mohammed Edrees, arrived in Liberia just ahead of the weekend, reaffirming the Egypt-Liberia solidarity and solidify bilateral relations for the mutual benefit of the two nations. More specifically, he assured Liberia that, as the country takes over its own security and other responsibilities in the wake of the UNMIL drawdown, his country is willing to provide assistance to ensure adequate protection for Liberia.
In a meeting with Justice Minister Fredrick Cherue and some officials of the security sector, the visiting Special Egyptian Envoy said global terrorism, drug and human trafficking and other trans-border activities cannot be solved by one country alone.
He indicated that there are many training programs designed by the Egyptian Government for Liberians and others from the African continent to participate in, adding that all are geared toward building his country’s relationship with the rest of the continent.
Justice Minister Cllr Fredrick Cherue, speaking earlier, appealed to Ambassador Edrees for training opportunities for the Liberian security sector.
In his statement, Minister Cherue recalled the mutual bilateral relations between Liberia and Egypt, and commended the North African country for her previous contributions, including medical assistance, to Liberia. However, the Minister said because Egypt had been of massive assistance to Liberia in the past, the enormity of the security challenges that followed the country’s civil crisis necessitated Liberia’s call to Egypt for assistance.
“Our security needs restructuring, and replacing UNMIL officers with those of Liberia is a huge challenge that requires assistance from an experienced country like Egypt,” Minister Cherue indicated.
He added that though terrorism has not hit Liberia, the government and people of Liberia are aware of this global threat, with cases reported in neighboring countries, including Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Mali.
He said Liberia has over the decades relied on natural resources, including minerals, timber and rubber, but prices of these commodities have drastically dropped, affecting the country’s economy.
“The option we have now is to build up human intelligence in order to produce what we need, and one key area of concern now is the security sector,” the Justice Minister said.
Intelligence to curb drug trafficking, violence, illegal immigration, child trafficking and others are some issues, Minister Cherue noted, the Liberian security sector is confronted with and needs training to handle.
In addition to Minister Cherue’s request, Deputy Minister of Justice for Administration Wheatonia Dickson-Barnes requested for a DNA equipment to help ease the burden of evidence in cases of rape and other sexual-gender based crimes.
Police Deputy Inspector for Operations, Abraham Kromah, named water cannons as essential tools for dispersing violent crowds as election draws closer; while Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization’s (BIN) Commissioner Lemuel Reeves disclosed that human trafficking is on the rise with some trafficked people coming from North Africa.
Liberia-Egypt relations have remained mutual over the years. Medical doctors from Egypt periodically come to Liberia to perform some tasks at major public hospitals, including the John F. Kennedy Medical Center. Many Liberians from the public sector and the media have also benefitted from training sponsored and conducted by the Egyptian Government in that country.
Ambassador Edrees arrived in the country on Nov. 4 for a five-day official visit. The Ambassador met key government officials, including Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai at the Barclay Training Center. Last Friday, he gave a lecture at the University of Liberia. He is scheduled to meet President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Vice President Joseph Boakai and Mr. Farid Zarif (United Nations SRSG at UNMIL headquarters). Ambassador Edrees is expected to leave for Ghana later this afternoon, in continuation of his West African tour.