Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan has hailed the excellent relationship, and steadfast partnership subsisting between Liberia and Lebanon through bilateral and multilateral arrangements. Speaking at the occasion marking the 71st Independence celebration of Lebanon on Friday, November 21, 2014, in Sinkor, Minister Ngafuan said Liberia stands ready to honor its obligation as a responsible partner in cultivating new opportunities that will promote the wellbeing of the two countries and peoples.
Minister Ngafuan told the gathering that the Lebanese community in Liberia has, and continues to make significant contributions to economic growth and development. “Lebanese traders have made Liberia their home and Liberians have opened their arms and hearts to them. We share in a partnership based on mutual respect for the sovereignty of both our countries and the common interest of our peoples”, the Liberian Foreign Minister declared.
Foreign Minister Ngafuan disclosed that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Liberia and Lebanon in the early 1960s, both countries have witnessed significant, comprehensive and tangible progress in the development of their friendship and cooperation.
Describing Lebanon as one of Liberia’s true friends who have stood by the country in both difficult and good times, the Foreign Minister said the Liberian Government and people are very grateful for the many donations made by the Lebanese community amounting to hundreds of thousands of United States dollars despite the huge difficulties with which the Liberian economy is faced as a result of Ebola. “Your contributions and prayers have helped bolstered our capacity and courage in combating Ebola and shall certainly go a long way in helping contain the Virus and mitigating its devastating effects”, he intimated. Minister Ngafuan asserted that Liberians are confident that with continued support and with the help of our international partners, local and international health workers, elders and local community structures, who are on the frontline fighting this menace, the war against Ebola that has left deep psychological scars on the entire nation will be won.
He then extended heartiest congratulations and warmest felicitations to the Charge d’Affaires and Head of Mission, and through him, to His Excellency, President Michel Suleiman, and to the Government and friendly people of the Republic of Lebanon on behalf of H.E. Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, and the Government and people of Liberia and Head of Mission on the unique occasion marking the 71st Anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Lebanon.
The Lebanese independence celebration also bid farewell to Mr. Bachir Sarkis, outgoing Charge d’ Affaires of Lebanon after what has been considered a very satisfying and productive tour of duty; and also welcome Mr. Fadi Zein, who is succeeding Mr. Sarkis as the new Charge d’ Affaires and Head of Mission of the Embassy of Lebanon.
On the global front, Foreign Minister Ngafuan said Liberia is saddened by the war in Syria which has led to the lost of so many lives, and is causing a huge influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon. He is urging both countries to continue to foster an unwavering commitment to international norms, protocols and obligations aimed at promoting international peace and security, adding, “We have used and continue to use diplomacy and negotiation to resolve issues at the global level. We also continue to work closely in furtherance of the aims of global peace and security especially in the Middle East; and for the advancement of other lofty ideals of the United Nations”. Minister Ngafuan expressed the hope that such collaborative partnership on the international stage will be further cemented and enhanced in the years ahead.
In a statement to mark the 71st Independence Anniversary, Charge d’ Affaires, Mr. Bachir Sarkis, paid tribute to the excellent relationship between Liberia and Lebanon while committing the Lebanese community continues engagement with Liberia in the areas of trade and commerce. Charge d’ Affaires Sarkis also used the occasion to recognize and paid tribute to health workers scatter around Liberia for their role in the fight giants the deadly Ebola virus. “Let me salute tonight those brave men and women, health workers and NGOs staff who are in front face to face with Ebola”. He described the Ebola virus as a dark tunnel but is hopeful that at the end of such dark period, Liberians and partners will survived to share once again great moments and god memories so that the spirit of collaboration, solidarity and love will continue.
Charge d’ Affaires Sarkis disclosed that since the first outbreak of Ebola, the Lebanese Community, despite huge lost in investments have made six donations valued at over hundreds of thousands of United States Dollars to the fight.”All those donations were great sacrifices but never compared to the suffering of one patient who died of the disease. Never compared to the pain, tears and fear of one patient left to face death alone, to face it by hunger,thirst,loneliness and despair, seems as all calamities came together, the sum of all fears”, the Lebanese diplomat remarked in a solemn tone.
The Outgoing Lebanese Chief of Mission used the occasion to reassure the international community that Lebanon will continue to keep its door open to Syrian refugees even though his country has lost hundreds of soldiers and civilians in the war against what he described as a monster created by ignorance to dismantle and to destroy not to negotiate with Isil and similar groups are the disease of the century.