SEPTEMBER 10, 2014 By Captain Yayah Brima
The second Sierra Leone Battalion or LEOBATT 2 for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has conducted an Ebola sensitization with an inter-company parade competition.
The event took place on Friday, September 5 at the Peace Mission Training Center (PMTC) at Hastings, few miles from Freetown.
In his welcome address, the Commanding Officer of LEOBATT 2, Lieutenant-Colonel George Bangura said the parade competition was organized in memory of the victims of the Ebola viral disease (EVD) and to use the event to spread the awareness message about the reality of the disease and preventive measures.
The LEOBATT 2 Commander emphasized that although they have been held in uncertainty with regards their deployment date due the Ebola outbreak, their focus and commitment have not changed, and their faith has not been shaken.
Giving an overview of the EVD, the Medical Officer of LEOBATT 2, Lieutenant (Dr) Thomas Massaquoi said a number of non-specific illnesses such as fever, headache, vomiting and dizziness were the early signs and symptoms at the initial stage of contact of the disease. He said the chance of survival at the hemorrhagic stage was very slim, but a greater chance was likely at the initial stage.
Lieutenant (Dr) Massaquoi said no LEOBATT 2 soldier has, so far, been affected by the disease. He, therefore, encouraged the troops to maintain the preventive measures including the “Don’t Torch” slogan.
Addressing the peacekeeping troops, the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff and Chairman of the Peace Support Operations (PSO) Working Group, Brigadier General John Milton commended the troops for their high spirit and esprit-de-core despite the long wait for their deployment. He encouraged the troops not to lose any hope and assured them of their deployment in the shortest time.
Brigadier General Milton said the UN policy on epidemic disease was very strict over the period after the Haiti cholera outbreak during which the UN troops were accused of having spread the disease. He told the troops that all the doubts in relation to their health states for EVD had been cleared by the government, and assured that a positive response with regards their deployment would be given soon.
At the end of the inter-company parade competition, Alfa Company secured the first position with 71% while Headquarters Company came second with 66%. Bravo Company had 63.4% while Charlie Company secured 63.3%.
Sierra Leone troops joined AMISOM in 2010 with the deployment of staff officers. Since April, 2013 the first Sierra Leone Battalion or LEOBATT 1 has deployed in three Somali cities of Tabda, Dhobley and Kismayo. Currently, the Sierra Leone contingent commands Sector Kismayo with Brigadier General Tamba Allieu as the Sector Commander.