Liberians hoping that visas for the United Kingdom (UK) would be introduced in Liberia following the opening of the British Embassy in October 2013, were let down as British Ambassador, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, disclosed that visas for Liberians wishing to enter his country could be obtained in Accra, Ghana.
During the embassy’s opening ceremony on October 14, 2013, after 22 years of closure, British Parliamentarian Mark Simmonds said they were hoping to re-introduce their visa program to Liberians, who wanted to travel to the UK.
Responding to when the visa issuance would commence, Ambassador Cochrane-Dyet said, “Liberians wanting UK visas must obtain them in Accra. I understand why people are unhappy about this. However, the fact is that fewer and fewer British Embassies are issuing visas.
Countries in Southern Africa have all their visas issued in Pretoria, while in West Africa most British Embassies do not issue visas at all: the Abidjan, Conakry, Bamako, Dakar, and Monrovia consulates are among them. I am presently trying to see what can be done to help Liberians have easier access to visas.”
He added, “One improvement is a priority service where, for an additional fee, Liberians can obtain their visa in Accra within 5 working days (often only two days)”.
Commenting on other issues, Ambassador Fergus Cochrane-Dyet underscored the need for Liberia to adapt self-reliance in order to maintain its sovereignty.
Ambassador Cochrane-Dyet made the comment in an interview with the Daily Observer when he was asked about his impression of activities of non-governmental organizations in Liberia.
Although the United Kingdom’s Ambassador admitted that NGOs were a tremendous help to Liberia’s development in the post-conflict era, he expressed worry that most of Liberia’s gross national income is derived from foreign aid.
He stressed that such an economic status created heightened sensitivities about national sovereignty, and that these tensions would be dissipated as Liberia builds up its own revenue streams and general infrastructure.
Ambassador Cochrane-Dyet said by doing this the country would gradually become less reliant on outside help.
It can be recalled that when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf gave her Annual Message on January 27, she emphasized the need for accountability on the part of NGOs operating in the country. President Sirleaf said government would follow NGO’s activities to ensure that money given them for work in Liberia yielded the necessary results.
Addressing this concern, the Ambassador said NGOs connected to Great Britain operating in Liberia are doing well and their impact is felt.
He lauded the work of Save the Children UK, Oxfam, and Mary’s Meals, as NGO’s doing vital work in Liberia.
Giving examples of the U.K.’s commitment to supporting the good work of their NGO’s he said, “Mary’s Meal is feeding 113,000 schoolchildren with plans to expand their program to 150,000. The British Embassy has a small grant scheme which we use to support local NGOs like the Liberian Girls Association and More than Me Foundation.”