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Sierra Leone Ambassador: Help My Country, Don’t Stigmatize It

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Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, minister plenipotentiary to the United Nations, said Sierra Leone should not be stigmatized because of the ebola virus.

The world should not stigmatize Sierra Leone because of the outbreak of the ebola virus, one of the country’s diplomats said in a Sept. 26 press conference at the municipal building.

Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, minister plenipotentiary to the United Nations, was one of a number of West African immigrants and residents who spoke during the press conference, held by Concerned Sierra Leoneans to End the Ebola Virus in the World. The group assembled to ask for help for western African nations fighting the deadly virus.

Sierra Leone has the second-highest number of reported ebola cases in West Africa at 1,813, according to statistics from USAID and the Centers for Disease Control. Liberia has the most at 3,022 reported cases, and Guinea has 1,008 reported cases.

Kabs-Kanu noted that commercial airlines and shipping companies have stopped going to Sierra Leone over health concerns.

The diplomat said this will damage his country’s economy, which was just starting to gain steam when the ebola crisis began.

“I appeal to the airlines to start going back to our country,” he said. “I appeal to the shipping companies to start going back.”

“Before ebola hit, we were in the process of rebuilding our health system,” he said. “We don’t want you to stigmatize our country because of ebola.”

“We are very good people,” Kabs-Kanu said. “We are progressive. We have contributed to the development of this country.”

Kabs-Kanu said the country is in need of many things, including health care workers, trainers for health care workers, laboratories and treatment centers.

Community activists, such as Inez Konjoh of Concerned Citizens of Sierra Leone, furthered the message.

She said her organization gathered 50 cases of materiel for Sierra Leoneans, but a lack of funds has forced them to use a slow shipping method.

“They won’t get them until late October,” she said. “By then, how many more people would have died?”

Konjoh said West Africans must lead the fight.

“If we, who are from those parts of Africa are not concerned, how can we expect the world to be concerned?” she said.

Dossu Kassimou, of the Sandji Community Development Corp. agreed.

“We have to be the voice out there to let people know ebola is real,” he said. “This disease is going to finish Africa if we’re not careful.”

Township Councilmen James Vassanella (D-Ward 5) and Phil Kramer (D-Ward 3) arranged the conference with Foday Mansaray.

“This is a crisis,” Vassanella said. “More will die if measures are not stepped up quickly.”

Noting that the township has the densest concentration of Sierra Leoneans outside of the country, Kramer said, “These are the brothers, sisters, mothers, daughters, sons and fathers of our neighbors.”

How To Help

The following organizations can be contacted to send help to west African nations fighting the ebola virus:

Concerned Citizens of Sierra Leone (a We Care Foundation): (732) 586-1568

Diamond Diaspora United as One for the Sake of Mama Salone: (908) 342-8176

Sandji Community Development Corp.: www.sandjicdc,org, (973) 849-5209

Know of more organizations? Email editor@franklinreporter.com

 

Ebola Press Conference

 

 

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