European Union External Action

EUD Liberia, EUD Sierra Leone and Germany join forces to repatriate citizens and airlift medical supplies

09/04/2020 - 13:26
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On Sunday evening 5 April, the EU Delegations to Sierra Leone and Liberia facilitated the successful repatriation to Brussels of nearly 250 citizens from the EU, but also from the Schengen area and from the UK.

In Liberia, the Delegation actively supported the German Embassy with the preparation of the flight and liaised with Liberian authorities to obtain authorisation for the exceptional opening of the Liberian airspace and Roberts International Airport to enable this special flight to operate. In addition, the Delegation worked closely with EUD Sierra Leone and facilitated the dialogue and exchange of information among the Embassies of Germany and other EU MS accredited to Liberia, resident in Liberia and in neighbouring countries, in order to identify the EU nationals to be repatriated and prepare the boarding list. 109 citizens from 14 EU Member States & Schengen nationalities, both tourists and residents, boarded the flight. The Delegation also provided logistical support to the German Embassy to ensure a smooth and effective operation of the flight at the airport.

Ambassador Hélène Cavé: "The fact that we had a robust consular cooperation with Member States present in Liberia for a long time, including a mechanism to provide consular assistance to unrepresented EU nationals, as well as a very fluent and regular relation with all Ambassadors of Member States, accredited to Liberia and based abroad, and also Honorary Consuls, have allowed the EU Delegation to act very swiftly, complementing the efforts from the German Embassy here in Monrovia. It was a team work, also with our colleagues in Freetown." 

In Sierra Leone, intense EU consular coordination - with the EUD and the German Embassy in the lead - allowed 138 EU and Schengen citizens including some EU Delegation staff and their family members as well as particularly vulnerable UK citizens to return to Europe. In addition and thanks to the active coordination efforts of the EU Delegation with UNICEF, WHO and Brussels Airlines, the incoming flight also brought 18 tons of humanitarian aid to Freetown. Among others, the cargo flew in 140 litres of glycerol, one of the ingredients to produce alcohol-based hand rub, currently not available on the local market in Sierra Leone and a crucial component for the prevention of infections.

Ambassador Tom Vens: With only 2 EU Member States present in Sierra Leone and very limited resources available, this is a major accomplishment for the EU. It shows that there is nothing we can't do, as long as we show solidarity, commitment and resilience. I must say I am particularly proud of my core EU staff team: they were literally active around the clock including this weekend– whether here in Freetown or working remotely from Europe - to make this happen. There could not have been a better team spirit amongst us.

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