January 15, 2015 By Samuel Ben Turay
Assistant Chief of Defence Staff for Operations in the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) has said returning soldiers from Somalia may undergo Ebola training before they could be allowed to interact with people.
Brigadier Mohamed Mamadi Keita was talking to the first batch of 116 soldiers who arrived from Somalia at the Lungi international airport yesterday.
He likened the Ebola fight to that the men fought with the Al-Shabbab insurgents in the Horn of Africa country. He said the training, which is to commence today at Hastings, would ensure the soldiers acquire firsthand information about the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 2,000 since May last year.
Also speaking at the event to welcome the soldiers, Head of Public Relations at the Ministry of Defence, Colonel M.M. Samura, said they would ensure the personnel get proper information about the virus before they would be allowed to even go closer to their families.
“They are new to Ebola so they are vulnerable to the virus. We are going to give them the right information about Ebola to protect them from the virus,” said Col. Samura, adding that the contingent was due to return since July 2014 but their rotation was delayed as a result of the outbreak of Ebola.
A battalion had been trained to replace the one in Somalia, but that plan was shelved after reports that one of them had contracted the deadly virus.
Sierra Leone deployed troops in Somalia in 2012 as part of a multi-national African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The country was threatened by Al-Shabbab terrorists but authorities in Freetown remained unfazed, although extra security was beefed up in major government buildings in the capital.