SIERRA LEONE ENTERS THREE-DAY LOCKDOWN
Today marks a truly remarkable occasion. No, not Scotland staying part of the UK. But the occasion of an entire country under curfew, or ‘lockdown’ for three whole days – the clearest indication yet of the desperation that is engulfing Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
Opinion is divided on the merits of the lockdown. Street Child feels it serves two strong purposes however:
1. The big idea is that every house gets a home visit from a team of volunteers (many of our staff are partaking) which, amongst other things, aims to properly explain ebola and how to react to it. As an entry on the ebola blog today makes clear, we feel that whilst ebola awareness in very simple terms is high, useful knowledge is dangerously low – people are dying needlessly; and also livelihoods are being affected as uneducated people take greater precautions than are actually necessary (e.g. changing farming habits – risking crops and incomes).
2. It is a dramatic measure. Here, where even a tube strike is an inconvenience, we've never seen anything like it, not even in wartime. It represents a big cry for help. A cry that still needs hearing and acting upon. Even in a week when the Americans have mobilised military personnel (mainly to Liberia), the UN declared ebola a ‘threat to international peace and security’, and the World Bank warned of potential economic catastrophe, there is nothing like enough being done. Lockdown is the ultimate, not to mention most deserving, cry for sponsorship on an industrial scale.
For Street Child, as we complete week four of our appeal, our message and focus is becoming clearer.
· We are hugely concerned by the suffering that ebola is bringing not just to those who contract the disease, but to the whole region (this is a fact reinforced by the national lockdown: every single person is affected), and in particular to the most vulnerable.
· And we feel that this broader suffering is being massively overlooked by the global donor community as they urgently and vitally focus on bringing ebola as a disease under control.
Places like Kenema and Kailahun in the East, where ebola started in Sierra Leone, have been quarantined for almost two months now. This is where the economic impact of the virus is really starting to bite as Street Child teams have identified on their visits to the region.
In fact, we've been receiving shocking reports from the field in multiple locations this week, of starvation and of intense psychological trauma from families in quarantine across the country. Read the full report here.
And for a real snapshot of our current work right at the heart of the lockdown, read about our efforts to feed 1000 street children this weekend. Whilst the rest of the nation is forced to stay at home, those without a home to go to need all the help they can get.