Ebola outbreak: Sierra Leone officials in aid row

A container of aid materials designed to help fight the Ebola outbreak is at the centre of a political row in Sierra Leone.

The $500,000 (£311,000) shipment – which include mattresses, stretchers and health worker protection kits – has been stranded at the port of the capital Freetown for weeks.

An opposition politician says the government is refusing to clear it.

But a health ministry official said the delivery was approved two weeks ago.

It remains unclear why the aid has not moved from the port.

More than 3,400 people have died during the current Ebola outbreak, nearly all of them in West Africa. In Sierra Leone the death toll is at least 678.

The shipping container dispute erupted after Chernor Bah, a fierce critic of President Bai Koroma, said that the government had refused to pay duty on the aid delivery.

Mr Bah told the BBC that officials had said they would not meet the $6,000 fee required for the items.

However a spokesman for Sierra Leone’s health ministry, Yahyah Conteh, said that the government did not normally pay shipping fees for aid donors – but an an exception had been made for Mr Bah’s shipment and the payment had been made two weeks ago.
Five cases an hour

The BBC’s correspondent in Sierra Leone, Umaru Fofana, said that the government’s Ebola response plan has occasionally been characterised by internal wrangling among state officials.

There have been allegations of corruption among officials responsible for tackling the virus, he added.

Save the Children reported last week that the rate of Ebola infections was increasing rapidly in Sierra Leone, with five new cases every hour.

Worldwide there have been more than 7,500 confirmed cases. Most have occurred in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.


Credit: BBC

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Henry Cobblah

Henry Cobblah is a Tech Developer, Entrepreneur, and a Journalist. With over 15 Years of experience in the digital media industry, he writes for over 7 media agencies and shows up for TV and Radio discussions on Technology, Sports and Startup Discussions.

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