Wednesday, October 16, 2013

British Embassy Reopens

The United Kingdom has re-opened its Embassy in Monrovia this week, after it was evacuated and closed in 1990 at the early stages of the Liberian Civil War. From The New Dawn
"I also just want to reiterate the importance that the United Kingdom attaches to the relationship with Liberia", the British Minister stated during the ceremony held at the new British Embassy in Sinkor.A Foreign Ministry release says Mr. Simmonds disclosed that there are only a few numbers of embassies the UK Government is opening across the world, and that his Government wanted to make sure that Liberia was one of those:"So, this is a significant step for the United Kingdom. I'm delighted to be here, I'm delighted to dedicate this new British Embassy".He added that his government will be encouraging more UK businesses to invest in Liberia which would contribute to the economic development and growth that is taking place in Liberia.In response, Foreign Minister Ngafuan hailed Britain's contributions to the bilateral ties between Liberia and Great Britain as he recalled Britain's historic recognition of Liberia's independence as the first country to do so.The Liberian Foreign Minister remains certain that with the reopening of the British Embassy in Liberia the British government will now put on its front-burner the issuance of British visas here, something the British Minister himself acknowledged in his speech delivered Monday night at the Royal Grand Hotel in Sinkor.Counting other efforts by the British government that have helped to enhance Liberia-British relations, Minister Ngafuan continued: "This year, we have been honored by two significant visits: one, by your Prime Minister, the Honorable Dave Cameron who came in February as a Co-chair of the UN High Level Panel of Experts to craft the Post-2015 development agenda and today, another high level visit from you.""The fact that you didn't have an embassy here; we felt that we needed to bridge that gap. And now we are very happy that you've responded and we have a physical presence of Great Britain in Liberia", Minister Ngafuan stated.He named the resumption of flights by British Airways to Monrovia, the operations of British businesses in Liberia and last year's Liberia-UK Business Forum that was held in London, the UK as some of the testimonies of the cordial relationship between both countries."
The new Embassy is not in the same location as the old one: As the article notes, Her Majesty's government now operates a mission in Sinkor, specifically the LCL Compound, a sparkling complex of three high-rise apartment towers on the beach between 12th and 13th streets, which is also home to the new Swedish Embassy, which moved in from a Johannsen location when the LCL Compound opened in 2012. The Knight of the Order of Malta's legation moved from another compound in Sinkor, and the three golden blocks house some of the most expensive apartments for lease in the entire city. So the new British Embassy is hardly a dedicated, purpose-built mission. 
The Former British Embassy on Mamba Point, the white building at the center against the concrete wall and curve of UN Drive, was later made the Ambassador's residence of the US Embassy.
Previously, the British Embassy had been part of Mamba Point's classic Embassy Row, situated on a beautiful, dramatic clifftop house just below the US Embassy, facing the ocean. The Dutch embassy was just down the street and the French Embassy was further up the hill at Benson Street.

1990-2000 era maps showing old UK Embassy location.
At some point after it was vacated by the British, HM Embassy became the Ambassador's residence in an expanded US Embassy compound. Today, the French and British embassies are located in the oceanside avenues of Sinkor, the US have moved across the street to the old Greystone compound, and the Dutch have yet to return, although the area still is home to most UN Agencies, the European Union, and the Vatican Embassy. 
Monrovia now hosts more than twenty embassies, consulates, and honorary consuls, although many Ambassadors accredited to Monrovia are resident in Abidjan, Accra, or even Abuja. 

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