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Official statement from HANCI-SL in response to Sierra Leone government press release

Official statement from HANCI-SL in response to Sierra Leone government press release

16 April, 2012 – In response to a press release from the Office of the Sierra Leone Government dated 13th April 2012:  We are unable to comment on the ongoing legal investigation following the circulation of the recent Government White Paper addressing the critical issues and recommendations of the Justice Showers Commission of Inquiry into the HANCI-MAPS adoptions. We would though like to take this opportunity to place on record our immediate and 100% commitment to supporting the further investigation contemplated by the White Paper. We will support all true efforts to establish the circumstances by which these 29 children were adopted to the United States of America.

However, we are shocked by the Government’s decision to suspend our current operations, which bear no connection whatsoever to the historic events considered by Justice Showers. Most importantly, our current work benefits the lives of thousands of the nation’s most vulnerable children and their families. It is these vulnerable Sierra Leoneans who stand to suffer from this suspension. And it is their plight that we feel it is our moral duty to highlight to the Government and the nation.

There is a vast difference between the operations of HANCi/SL 2012 and the HANCI of the 90s. Since that time, HANCi/SL, like our nation, has grown in measure and stature beyond all recognition; we have new management (staff), new trustees and an entirely new mission. With that in mind, we believe that we are perfectly able to continue our operations without causing any complications to this investigation whatsoever.

‘HANCi 2012’ is recognised both nationally and internationally as a leader in its field. For example, in the field of street children, HANCi is the only organisation with extensive operations in each of the nation’s provinces. And only last Thursday, one day before our suspension was announced, we released the results of unique national statistical research on street children – a project that we organised alongside the Government with international donors and consultants and that attracted serious coverage globally due to its innovative nature.

Most importantly of all though is the fact that the only impact that is guaranteed from the suspension of HANCi’s work is that the thousands of children currently benefitting from our projects will suffer.

As of 16th April, all of this work has stopped – and with every day that passes, it becomes more likely that our work will be permanently affected by the suspension of our activities.

We of course understand the importance of carrying out a thorough investigation into the 29 adopted children now living in the United States of America – but it is the welfare of thousands of Sierra Leonean children and families that we urge the Government to balance against the benefits that might arise from suspending our activities in order to facilitate that investigation.

The impact of our suspension must not only be viewed in terms of these 14,692 beneficiaries but in terms of how it will affect the country’s development tomorrow. Our funding for future projects is intimately bound up in our credibility and our track-record of success. The implication of this suspension has the potential to destroy those foundations – our credibility and our success are both brought into question. Our donors are mainly international. They have a choice of countries as to where they donate. They will justifiably question their commitment to Sierra Leone and their support will most likely be lost. This is not speculation, this is what our donors have already told us.

It is vital however for the Government to understand that it will be the country’s children who will most feel the impact of a suspension of our activities – that whilst we are wholeheartedly committed to fully co-operating with this investigation, we have grave concerns for the impact that any suspension will have on the development of Sierra Leone’s most vulnerable.

I want to reiterate HANCi’s absolute commitment to supporting the Government’s ongoing investigations. But, also state that we are convinced that continuing to run the vital work that we are currently engaged with will in no way hinder our ability to immediately and fully comply with those investigations.

HANCI is therefore appealing that the Government of Sierra Leone reconsider the suspension of our activities while we work alongside them in complete compliance of all investigations. The motive for this is humanitarian – to avoid the disaster of thousands of children having their support cut short, thus being forced to leave school or return to the streets.

HANCi believes this is a child-friendly Government. The vigour with which the Government has set up the Showers Inquiry is just one demonstration of this. We also know this from our own fruitful Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs and Family Support Unit partnerships.

We pray that we can be allowed to continue to work together and move beyond this juncture – to build the brighter future we both crave for the most vulnerable of the nation’s children.

Statement from: Help a Needy Child in Sierra Leone (HANCi- SL)
Contact: 49 Pademba Rd, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Kelfa Kargbo
Executive Director

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