The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting Liberia’s development and democratic governance.
According to the Ambassador of the United Kingdom accredited to Monrovia, Liberia, Mr. Neil Bradley, his country will continue its involvement across different sectors.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to the Liberia mission in London, where he held insightful discussions ‘about greater cooperation between Liberia and the UK’ with his Liberian counterpart, Amb. Gurly T. Gibson Schwarz, Amb. Bradley announced five key areas where the UK Government has remained engaged across Liberia- emphasizing health, education, climate change, biodiversity, and security.
Under healthcare and education, he noted that the UK is playing a leading role in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines within the WHO, COVAX Initiative with Liberia being a beneficiary.
He also explained that the British government is providing US$2.6m dollars to Mary’s Meals helping more than 157,000 children in Liberia reduce hunger- for the period 2021-to 2024.
Amb. Bradley emphasized that the impact of this initiative is based on visitation to the project site in Bomi County.
According to the Ambassador, the United Kingdom is also providing US$5m to power Nutrition and financing facility run by UNICEF, targeting 1.3 million women and children to reduce the prevalence of stunting in Liberia from 36% to 33% by 2024; as well as contributing US$80,000 to UNFPA in Liberia to reduce unintended pregnancies and maternal deaths. The project is seeking to improve maternal newborn and child health. Another US$1.5m items of Personal protective equipment have been donated towards combating the global pandemic.
He mentioned the annual Chevening scholarship program provides master’s scholarships for Liberians to enroll at top UK Universities, as one of the areas of the UK’s engagement with Liberia in education. Beneficiaries of the programs moved on to play influential roles across different sectors. On social protection, the United Kingdom has also contributed $4m to the World Bank Liberia social safety net project- presided over by the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection- providing income support to poor and income insure households of over 12,000.
As regards the Economy, he stated that the United Kingdom is a major contributor to the World Bank US$6.3m to the World bank Liberia- to help fund the construction of the south-eastern corridor.
On sustaining peace in terms of Security and national Defence- the UK Ministry of Defence provided UN MINUSMA (UN Mission to Mali) deployment training for 160 members of the Armed forces of Liberia in February with additional training due this year.
The United Kingdom peace support team- police officer also visited Liberia in January 2022 providing training for the Liberia National Police. On Justice and Human Rights, The Human Rights Envoy, Ambassador Rita French, visited Liberia last month and her visit ‘will help strengthen cooperation in this area.’
He further explained that the UK’s Cop26 Presidency has seen the UK mission to Monrovia in coordinating with different sectors prior to the successful Glasgow world climate change conference.
The UK has also contributed to the training of journalists around environmental issues raising awareness amongst women on how to adapt effectively to climate change to protect species and their habitats.
The United Kingdom has also placed a premium on forest governance and reforms and climate change around US$20m dollars.
The UK-funded projects and grants are supporting the government of Liberia to develop the necessary tools and systems to strengthen forest governance, thus safeguarding Liberia’s precious natural resources. According to Ambassador Bradley.
The UK Monrovia mission, however, expressed delight- that the UK illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund finances several key initiatives in Liberia.’ In recent years, has helped developed a regulation for implementing the national wildlife law; set up transboundary committees and monitoring arrangements between Liberia Guinea and Cote D’Ivoire to protect migrating forest elephants, delivered training to ranger teams while educating citizens about the negative effects of trading of illegal wildlife.
He explained that the UK will continue to collaborate and strengthen bilateral relationship between Liberia and the United Kingdom.
For her part, Ambassador Gurly Gibson Schwarz said increasing collaboration with the United Kingdom as a key donor to international development ‘is a key preoccupation of the Liberian diplomatic mission in London.’ She indicated that such increasing collaboration with the UK is reflective of progress in many sectors.
Such interaction at various levels of the UK and Liberia governments- and people-driven forums are crucial to both countries.
As Liberia and the United Kingdom edge toward a trade deal- Ambassador Gurly Gibson Schwarz recalled the support of the UK during the UK Liberia business conference that focused on Liberia’s innovative approach to the extractive industries that highlighted- sustainable development and renewable energy.
She applauded Ambassador Bradley for continuing the partnership and breaking new grounds in Liberia and the United Kingdom towards furthering cooperation between our governments and people.
On her recent meeting with a member of the House of Lords at the British Parliament, Ambassador Schwarz asserted that advancing increasing trade between Liberia and the UK is crucial to creating jobs in Liberia and actualizing the UK Global Britain mantra.
She recalled that Lord Sheikh was one of the key delegates at the UK-Liberia virtual conference held at the Liberia Mission in London and has since continued ties with Liberia.
‘Lord Sheikh expressed his intentions to form a trade alliance with Liberia, stating that there are enormous trade investment opportunities in the renewable energy, blue economy, and tourism sectors.
The meeting also included Lady Sheikh and Mr. Jonathan Turner, co-founder and director of NLA International, Ltd who expressed particular interest in Liberia’s blue economy-fishing and maritime sectors.