Originally published September 24 2014
Medical martial law in Sierra Leone resulted in immediate food shortages
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Sierra Leone just concluded a three-day lockdown of the entire nation that officials claimed would help nip Ebola in the bud and prevent it from spreading any further. But reports indicate that this concerning declaration of medical martial law ended up causing major food shortages instead, as many residents were not given the promised food rations.
According to Breitbart, only certain families were given rice handouts during the initiative, angering many others who thought that they would be getting rations as well. As volunteers went door-to-door, looking for any ill or dead who might be hidden in people's homes, the poorest Sierra Leonean residents were restricted from working, which prevented many of them from eating.
"They expected, when they saw us, that we were coming with food, but unfortunately we are just coming to talk to them," explained Samuel Turay, a 21-year-old volunteer who was among the 30,000 that patrolled the streets. "So they were not so happy about it."
Government forces many Sierra Leoneans to starve during lockdown For many Sierra Leoneans, a day's wage is required just to put food on the table, which means millions of people were forced to starve as a result of the lockdown. This has put tremendous strain on an already embattled population that distrusts both the government and the health workers trying to contain the outbreak.
During the lockdown, food packages containing rice, beans and a form of porridge were meant to be distributed by the World Food Program (WFP). But rather than hand these out door-to-door, volunteers instead focused on bringing the food to areas specifically under quarantine by medical workers, leaving everyone else with nothing.
"Things are not going smooth[ly] right now," stated Miatta Rogers, a mother from the west side of Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital. "Everyone is not happy. When the government makes a ruling like this, then we all just have to abide by it, but it is not very easy."
Even in quarantined areas, food rations were not enough Just prior to the lockdown, WFP distributed two weeks' worth of rations to some 20,000 households in the worst slum areas of the country. But many residents later told the media that the rations were inadequate, and that many people were unable to feed their families with what was provided.
Others were leery about what was in the food, suspecting that it had been intentionally poisoned by aid workers. Cleaning supplies like soap also became suspect, according to volunteers, with residents rejecting the offerings as potentially containing Ebola or some other deadly pathogen.
"There was this lady shouting saying we want to kill her, she is not interested in the soap," stated Kabarie Fofanah, one of the volunteers who helped canvass the country. "We tried our level best to talk to her but she refused to take the soap. She is afraid."
Some volunteers also encountered violence during the sweep after residents protested the burial of their loved ones. Police had to be called in to contain the situation and get things under control. Overall, the effort did not go as hoped, with much resistance and more problems than anticipated, including increased food shortages reported not only in Sierra Leone but in other nearby countries.
"In Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, zones quarantined to combat the spread of the virus have seriously curtailed the movement of food," explains a report in the Awoko Newspaper. "This has led to panic buying, food shortages and significant food price hikes on some commodities."
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