World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) calls for increased support for communities struck by Ebola

The World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) has called for accelerated action to support West African communities devastated by the scourge of Ebola. The WFFP was responding to a report from the Sierra Leone Artisanal Fishers Union (SLAFU), one of 40 member organisations of the world body.

Fear and desperation has struck fishing villages in Sierra Leone as the Ebola virus continues on its devastating path.

Six fishers from the Tombo fishing communities have died from the deadly virus and many others have fallen ill, according to Abdul Koroma of SLAFU.

Mr Koroma has told of the fear that stalks the community as people are struck down by the virus. He said that the congestion in Tombo made it difficult for residents to heed the warning of health authorities that people should not touch each other. He said fishers worked in close proximity at sea and when boats docked at the Wharf, the entire community was placed at risk.

He said 10 houses were under quarantine, but occupants were forced to leave from time to time, in search of food and other supplies. He added that the fear of being infected as well as emergency regulations, severely restricted people from moving around. This, he said, reduced fishers’ capacity to sustain livelihoods.

Illiteracy and lack of knowledge of the virus, also hampered efforts to combat the virus, he said.

Mr Koroma reported that many fishers who migrated from Yeliboya to Tombo were instructed to return. He said:

“Three of them are currently in police custody in Freetown and SLAFU are pleading for their release. Ebola has resulted in many challenges for our fishers. There is no movement, no markets for their products. How can they sustain their lives?”

He said that fishing was the sole livelihood for the Tombo community and that “without fishing all other activities are paralysed.”

To date The Ebola epidemic has killed nearly 5000 people out of the 13, 703 infected. There are currently 5, 235 infected in Sierra Leone with 1, 500 deaths.

In Sierra Leone, the closure of markets, internal travel restrictions and fear of infection has curtailed food trade and caused supply shortages. Food prices have sky rocketed and agricultural production has decreased.

The WFFP has expressed its deep concern for affected fishing and other communities across West Africa.

Naseegh Jaffer, the Secretary General of the WFFP said: “We express our support to our friends and colleagues at SLAFU and the fishing communities living in the Ebola affected areas as well as all communities in West Africa impacted by the virus. Our deepest sympathies go to the loved ones of those deceased.”

“We call on governments worldwide to respond to calls on the ground to increase medical facilities, medical practitioners as well as assist in ensuring that food security is maintained in these regions.”

“Finally, we call on the international community to stand in solidarity with those in West Africa and to support all efforts to bring relief and dignity to the sick and dying.”



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