October 1, 2022

By Janet Sesay
As Monday July 29th marked the 5th Memorial Anniversary of Dr. Umar Khan, one of the major heroes in the fight against the 2014 Ebola Virus outbreak in Sierra Leone, the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL-SL) disclosed that fourteen million dollars that organizations donated for the fight against the dreadful Ebola, was misappropriated.
The Executive Director of CARL-SL and representatives of ECOWAS Law Suit and Ebola Survivor made the disclosure to journalists at a press conference held at the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists Headquarters in Freetown.
In his statement, Augustine Marrah, Counsel for the plantiffs for the Ebola Survivors alleged that Government of Sierra Leone mismanaged fourteen million dollars in Ebola response funds that caused violations of the right to life and health of Sierra Leoneans.
According to Augustine Marrah, their findings of two sepecial audit reports released by Audit Service Sierra Leone in 2015, found out that the government’s fiscal mismanagement caused a reduction in the quality of service delivery in the health sector during the Ebola crisis.
He said government violated the right of citizens to life by failing to adhere to relevant accounting and procurement controls which led to the mismanagement and possible loss of one-third of available monetary resources held directly by the government for Ebola response.
He further alleged that government was responsible for a greater number of Ebola infections than would otherwise have occurred.
The Executive Director of CARL-SL, Ibrahim Tommy said his institution and Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors (SLAEs) have made nationwide efforts to build a vibrant civic constituency around the Ebola ECOWAS Law Suit by bringing attention to the case, secure remedies for the brother community of Ebola survivors and engage the Government of Sierra Leone on much needed reforms in resource management and compliance in relation to emergency response.
He said the consultation targeted Ebola Survivors, health workers who have handled Ebola patients, Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs’ child development committee members, Councilors, Community headmen, CSOs among others.
Ibrahim Tommy said as they commemorate the fallen victims of the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone both institutions and partners have dedicated the week of July 29th to engage with the media and also carry out symbolic community outreach to remember the victims of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone.
President of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors, Yusuf Kabba told journalists that a national group which represents four thousand Ebola survivors and affected family members requested to join the litigation as plaintiffs.
Even though, according to Yusuf Kabba, they were discouraged by the ECOWAS court’s decision denying (SLAES’) application to become a party to the case, some members of SLAES are pleased to hear that SLAES nevertheless can take part in settlement negotiations with the government.
According to Yusuf Kabba, since the end of the Ebola outbreak, the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs has only provided them with two hundred and fifty thousand Leones each, mattresses and other food and non-food items.
He continued that most of the donations and support Ebola survivors have benefited, is from donor partners but expressed dissatisfaction over the government of Sierra Leone for not honoring its obligations to the Ebola survivors in the country.
Yusuf Kabba revealed that the Ebola survivors 1.9 million Leones account opened by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs meant to help Ebola survivors in the country is still unaccounted for.
He said since the 1.9 million Leones was deposited into the Ebola survivors account, no official has updated them about the funds, adding that even the present government did not say anything about such funds that aim to help Ebola Survivors in the country and appealed to government and donor partners especially the Ministry of Social Welfare to expedite the issues of Ebola survivors who have suffered so much during the turbulent times.
Valnora Edwin of Sierra Leone War Trust for Children who served as chairman at the press conference spoke about the plight of Ebola survivors and how authorities in governance failed to response to the needs of survivors in the country.
She said the alleged fourteen million dollars if properly utilized should have saved the lives of many Ebola victims in the country, and called for urgent government response to issues of Ebola survivors.