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Residents of isolated chiefdoms lament hardship

OCTOBER 20, 2014 By Alusine Sesay

Residents of Gbendembu-Ngowahun Chiefdom in the Bombali District have complained about what they referred to as extreme hardship as the chiefdom remains isolated with movement of people restricted, thus calling on the government to give a second thought to the issue since the area remains stable with no new case of Ebola for the past two months.

Gbendembu-Ngowahun was declared an Ebola hotspot and later isolated by the government in September as a result of one recorded confirmed case of Ebola.

The victim was sent to the Kenema Ebola treatment centre, where he was discharged and certified as survivor by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation few weeks before the chiefdom was isolated from the rest of the country.

Also, the suspected cases that were quarantined have been released with none showing any sign of Ebola. Since the area remains isolated and movement restricted, despite no new case of Ebola reported, residents are complaining that they are not getting access to basic amenities as a result of the isolation.

“We are dying here slowly because we remain isolated with no better facilities. We used to make our living through petty trading and subsistence farming but everything has been put on hold,” expressed Mariama Kamara, a petty trader who stays at Kalangba town.

According to her, they used to buy basic goods from Makeni, the district headquarters of Bombali, but that since the isolation commenced, security forces would not allow them to go and purchase their wares in Makeni.

“It is really difficult here for us. We have been isolated here and government or any other humanitarian organization is not providing us basic assistance,” she lamented. “How do they expect us to live?”

Meanwhile, Paramount Chief of the chiefdom, Kandeh Kiha III, told Concord Times that he is implementing local by-laws aimed at preventing the spread of the virus with absolute rigidity as he is determined to protect his subjects.

“We have not recorded any new case of Ebola in the chiefdom. People are strictly following the by-laws of the chiefdom, but the problem is that they have no access to basic facilities,” he noted.

Councilor of Ward 99 in Constituency 32, Santigie Dobson Conteh, noted that the area remains safe from Ebola and appealed to the government and humanitarian organizations to provide residents with relief items.

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