… Authorities refuse to explain
December 21, 2017 By Alusine Sesay
As victims of the August 14 mudslide and flood disaster have been left frustrated and disappointed due to government’s failure to provide their exit package as promised, authorities in charge of the disaster response and resettlement of victims have maintained tight lips on the issue.
Director of Disaster Management at the Office of National Security, John Rogers, had earlier promised that government would provide exit package, including food and non-food items, to the victims.
He further promised comprehensive cash transfers and transportation support to aid victims’ relocation to new accommodation.
In the wake of the twin disasters, the government received huge chunk of money from individuals, institutions and donor partners to support victims, for which a fiduciary agent was hired to be in charge.
A representative of the hired fiduciary agent, BDO, had in a press conference organised by the Office of National Security (ONS) in Freetown disclosed that they received the sum of Le6.5bn in cash and US$4.5 million as donations from private individuals, local and international organisations towards humanitarian assistance for the mudslide and flood disaster.
When the disaster struck on August 14, government and its partners established temporary shelters at Old School and Juba Barracks for affected people.
The settlements were closed down on November 15. Victims had hoped to receive their exit package to aid them to start a new life. But a vast majority of them have been complaining that the promised paradise has turned out to be a farce as they were left with no option but to return to their disaster prone communities.
While leaving the Don Bosco camp where many had been temporarily sheltered, some of the victims told Concord Times they were disappointed over the ‘failure’ of government to honour the promise of providing them with $120 exit package.
One of the victims, Mohamed Sannoh, expressed that: “ONS came and registered us, promising that they will send the $120 via Airtel money before we leave here. But now we are leaving the camp without our exit package.”
He added that some of them have nowhere to go as they had hoped to use the money to rent apartments.
Frantic effort by Concord Times to get the side of authorities at the Office of National Security (ONS), especially Director of Disaster Management, John Rogers, as to why victims were yet to receive their exit package proved futile.
Presidential Spokesperson, Abdulai Bayraytay, who was a key member of the communication pillar of the disaster management, told Concord Times in a mobile phone conversation that he would not comment on the issues because “I was in the USA and know little about the latest development. You can call Languba Keili at ONS, he would give you detail because he is in position to respond to that issue.”
Keili also directed this medium to the Director of Disaster Management, John Rogers, as the person directly in charge, but the latter could not respond when called on his mobile phone number and even after a text message was forwarded to him.
Meanwhile, Director of Don Bosco Fambul, George Crisafulli had remarked that: “They have money to spend on political rallies and campaigns but nothing to spend on people in distress situations. The victims need the money to start life afresh. It is the responsibility of government to provide the necessary support for the people, especially the poor.”