…pledges to deepen cultural ties with GuyanaPresident David Granger on Wednesday accepted a letter of credence from Ebu Jones at the Ministry of the Presidency, accrediting him as the new Surinamese Ambassador to Guyana.With the appointment of the new Ambassador, both Guyana and Suriname are seeking to improve their bilateral relationship through initiatives for sustainable development.In the presence of Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Karen Cummings and Director-General of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Audrey Jardine-Waddell, Ambassador Jones posited that his country is looking at deepening cultural ties with Guyana.According to him, both countries have displayed mutual respect and understanding for each other since the establishment of their bilateral relationship in 1975, which has witnessed continuous collaboration in a number of sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, forestry and health. Going forward, Suriname is also seeking to boost trading operations with Guyana with the prospects of other collaborations.“The Government of Suriname believes that the main focus and coopFrom left: Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Karen Cummings; Suriname Ambassador to Guyana Ebu Jones; President David Granger; and Director-General of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Audrey Jardine-Waddelleration should be placed on achieving sustainability and in the pursuit of the development of country and people. It is therefore important and necessary that an atmosphere of peace, togetherness and friendship is being sustained. Emphasis should be placed on what binds us rather than what divides us,” the newly accredited Ambassador related.He added, “There is even more potential for collaboration in the sustainable use of our natural resources as well as exploring environmental tourism and agriculture opportunities both countries have to offer. Suriname also looks forward towards deepening the cultural relationship and intensifying economic trade activities.”President David Granger acknowledged his letter of credence, adding that the main focus will surround regional peace. This includes the elimination of illegal migration and money laundering among other issues which are seen as threats.“Guyana is committed towards ensuring that the South American continent remains a zone of peace. Peace in our region could be endangered by transnational threats such as trafficking of illegal weapons, narcotics and people; illegal migration; money laundering, environmental hazards and territorial controversies,” the president said.The idea of eradicating these issues were welcomed by both countries, who saw the appointment as an opportunity to combat difficult challenges faced in the past. As was mentioned, there is a large count of persons from the Guyanese Diaspora, who have been residing and contributing economically to Suriname.“Guyana looks forward to working with Suriname within the ambit of the Caribbean Community and the Guyana Suriname Corporation Council, to continue to improve trade, to intensify cultural, economic, environmental and social cooperation to combat transnational threats.”The new Ambassador had previously held the position of Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of the Republic of Suriname in the Kingdom of The Netherlands. Next year, the countries will celebrate 45 years since the establishment of bilateral ties.
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – The parents of a nine-year-old Syrian refugee who was struck and killed by a bus in British Columbia on Friday thought their children were finally safe when they escaped the civil war in their homeland, says a volunteer who has helped the family.On Saturday, Hala Albarhoum’s grief-stricken father held her little body, wrapped in a shroud, before placing her into her grave during the burial in Chilliwack that was attended by many community members.“The amount of turmoil they’ve gone through … we can’t even fathom what it must be like,” said Adnan Bhat, who volunteers with the Abbotsford Islamic Centre.“They’re trying to gather the strength for the other kids. They are praying a lot for Hala and for the other kids, just for strength to deal with the loss,” said Bhat, who indicated the family has four surviving children.Several departments are investigating Hala’s death including the major crime unit and B.C. Commercial Vehicle Safety.B.C. Transit president Manuel Achadinha said in a statement on Friday that he is “extremely saddened” to hear of the girl’s death and the agency’s thoughts are with her family, the driver and others who witnessed the event.Sgt. Judy Bird of the Abbotsford police said it’s too early to say how fast the bus was travelling.“At that time of morning, it was still quite dark, as well as our weather conditions were very rainy, so there was some visibility issues. But at this time we are at the very preliminary stages of investigation.”Bhat said the family came to Abbotsford more than a year ago as government-sponsored refugees. Support from the government only lasts a year, Bhat explained, and the family has struggled financially since then.Bhat spearheaded the GoFundMe campaign after the death to raise money to cover the funeral costs as well as buy the family a car. But as the campaign quickly gathered momentum, he said there were requests to continue accepting donations to help the grieving family deal with other expenses.Over $20,000 had been raised by Sunday afternoon.Bhat said he’s assisted a number of refugee families, but Hala’s family made a particular impression on him. He originally met them while trying to assist them in bringing an uncle who is still in Syria to Canada.That didn’t work out, but Hala’s teenaged brother, Mohammed, who had been acting as a translator for the parents, started to volunteer with the Abbotsford Islamic Centre’s efforts to help the homeless, such as participating in food drives. The father, meanwhile, helped paint the Islamic Centre.Bhat only met Hala once, describing her as “a very sweet child” who was “slightly reserved and shy.”“When you meet them, their manners and their righteousness is something that you can easily see in their behaviour,” Bhat said of the girl’s family.Bhat said he learned of the tragic news on Friday afternoon. He didn’t know at first who the victim was, but his heart sank when he learned the girl’s identity.“It’s extremely, extremely sad because this is a family who survived the war in Syria and when they finally thought they were safe in Canada, it was a small bus accident that took away their little child,” Bhat said.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the family has three surviving children. There are four.