On Eve Of UN Gathering, Sierra Leone Expats Demand Government Accounting of Stolen Ebola Funds

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Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma

[Op-Ed]

Concerned Sierra Leoneans (CSL) USA is aware that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon is hosting an International Ebola Recovery Conference in New York, United States of America on July 9-10, 2015 to pursue recovery as part of the goal of “getting to zero and staying at zero.” 

We fully support the purpose of the conference which is intended to draw international attention to investment needs for the affected countries to address recovery priorities.

We are also aware that the Presidents of the affected countries--Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will be presenting their respective countries’ recovery plans at the conference. Specifically, the funding requirements of the respective countries’ recovery plans are expected to “take into account the imperatives to build back effective, inclusive and resilient institutions and decentralized services.”

CSLUSA’s position is that the affected countries, including Sierra Leone need this investment in order to address post Ebola challenges. However, it is imperative that such investment goes towards addressing those economic, social, and more importantly, weaknesses in healthcare infrastructure and delivery capacity that contributed to the weak response to the epidemic. Another set of factors that also contributed to the weak response is poor leadership, corruption and mismanagement of the meager funds that were available to fight Ebola.

In the case of Sierra Leone, this limitation manifested itself in the Ebola funds management audit report issued in October 2014, by the government auditing agency. As of now, there is no evidence to suggest that actions have been taken by the Sierra Leone Government to hold to account those cited in the audit report, nor has the government put in place remedial actions to address the weaknesses cited in the Ebola response delivery framework.

This is coupled with the fact that the Sierra Leone Government has yet to make public its recovery plan for public consumption. Accordingly, CSLUSA is unable to establish that the recovery plan effectively takes into account those imperatives cited above.

Therefore, CSLUSA urges the international community, including the United Nations to ensure that the right accountability and transparency framework is in place to guarantee that the formulation of Sierra Leone Government’s recovery plan fully addresses those imperatives cited, as well as ensure that funds provided are used for the intended purposes. Anything short of that will not only leave Sierra Leone and the sub-region vulnerable, but also exposes donor countries like the United States to the epidemic should Ebola return in full fledge.

In contributing to such campaign, CSLUSA intends to embark on Ebola Recovery Transparency (ERT) Campaign, a public awareness and education effort. This campaign is intended to engage the international community as well the Sierra Leone Government in ways that will ensure that the recovery efforts meet “the imperatives to build back effective, inclusive and resilient institutions and decentralized services.” 

We are therefore inviting all Sierra Leoneans and friends of Sierra Leone to join us in this campaign at the United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City on July 10, 2015 at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Sheik Umarr Kamarah, PhD

Spokesperson, Concerned Sierra Leoneans US

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