Sierra Leone Current Affairs - 2020

India, Sierra Leone sign six agreements including $30 mn line of credit

To expand the bilateral relations in various fields, India and Sierra Leone signed six agreements including extending a credit line of $30 million for rice cultivation. The agreement was signed during the second leg of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu’s five-day visit to the West African countries, as part of which he reached Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone.

During the visit, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio showed committed towards further strengthening bilateral relations.

Key Highlights of Visit

In support of the Line of Credit extended by India to the tune of $30 million for Irrigation development in Tomabum to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production, an agreement was also signed with EXIM Bank of India in this regard.

UNSC Reforms: Both countries also agreed to push for United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms so that one-third (33%) of mankind residing in Africa and India occupy their rightful place in decision making bodies of UN. Moreover, UN also need to be reformed to reflect realities of today and address current global challenges.

India announced its decision to establish a High Commission in Sierra Leone.

Both countries have agreed to enhance cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure development, food processing, capacity building and Information Technology.

MoU Signed

For Sierra Leone to participate in India’s Pan-African tele-Education, tele-Medicine initiatives, e-Arogya Bharati and e-VidyaBharati.

To initiate a cultural exchange program between governments of India and Sierra Leone for the years 2019-23.

India- Sierra Leone

UNAMSIL: India was among the first countries to contribute to United Nation Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) with the deployment of 4000 strong Indian Military contingent.

So far, India’s developmental assistance to Sierra Leone is about $217.5 million for various sectors such as water resources, agriculture, energy and telecommunication.

e-Visa facility: India has extended e-Visa facility to the nationals of Sierra Leone for ease of mobility and both sides are also negotiating a visa waiver agreement for holders of diplomatic and official passports thus enhancing people-to-people linkages between the two countries.

During the recent visit, India proposed a line of credit for construction of a new President’s Office complex in Freetown.

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Bombali: New strain of Ebola virus discovered in Sierra Leone

Researchers working in joint US-West African study funded by USAid have discovered new strain of Ebola virus in bats in northern Bombali region of Sierra Leone. It has been named as Bombali virus strain, after district where it was found. The Bombali virus is overall sixth known virus strain Ebola virus. Others are Zaire, Sudan, Tai Forest, Bundibugyo and Reston. Ebola virus is a highly fatal haemorrhagic fever that is spread through contact with bodily fluids from infected persons and animals which include non-human primates, bats and forest antelope. Zaire strain of Ebola virus is the most deadly strain known

Bombali strain

The new Bombali strain of Ebola virus is distinct from its other virus strains. It is not yet known whether it could develop into the deadly disease. It is also not known that if Bombali virus has been transmitted to people or if it causes disease in people. However, results show it has the potential to infect human cells. Further research will help in understanding more about specific risks it poses.

Background

The finding of new strain of virus comes two years after end of worst-ever Ebola outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  The three West African neighbouring countries were hard hit by Ebola outbreak which began in Guinea in December 2013 before spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The epidemic was declared over by World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2016 after claiming over 11,300 lives out of nearly 30,000 registered cases. The 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was caused by Zaire virus, which was discovered in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire in 1976.

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