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ReliefWeb - Updates on Sierra Leone

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    Source: Médecins Sans Frontières
    Country: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone

    More than two and a half years after the Ebola outbreak officially began, MSF is now closing its last projects in West Africa dedicated to caring for people who survived the disease.

    The Ebola outbreak that swept across West Africa infected more than 28,700 people and killed more than 11,300 men, women and children. Whole families were ripped apart and communities were devastated by the disease, which saw schools close, economies grind to a halt and health systems collapse, leading to even greater loss of life. The shocking human toll of the outbreak was exacerbated by the painfully slow international response.

    “The suffering caused by the Ebola outbreak was immeasurable,” says Brice de le Vingne, operations director for MSF. “It has left an indelible mark on every MSF staff member who travelled to work in West Africa. For our staff from the region, the impact was even greater – they were living with the daily threat of the disease, while at work they faced the devastating reality of Ebola head on. But for those who were infected with the disease, and for their families, it was nothing short of hell.”

    Those who survived Ebola often found the battle was not over – many faced significant medical and mental health problems. However, because there had never before been an outbreak of this magnitude, there was limited understanding of what assistance people would need to pick up the pieces.

    “As the outbreak subsided, it became apparent that Ebola survivors and their families would need significant support,” says Petra Becker, MSF head of mission in Liberia. “The majority of survivors experienced physical disorders such as joint pain and neurological or ophthalmological problems. At the same time, many survivors, as well as their friends, family and caregivers, experienced significant mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, after being confronted so closely with death.”

    MSF set up dedicated survivors’ clinics in the three worst-affected countries. The first opened in Monrovia, Liberia in January 2015 and provided more than 1,500 medical consultations before closing in August 2016. A second clinic in Conakry, Guinea, cared for 330 survivors and more than 350 of their relatives in the Coyah and Forécariah districts of the city. A similar clinic in Freetown, Sierra Leone provided mental and medical healthcare to more than 400 survivors and their families, organising more than 450 individual and group sessions to provide psychological support.

    “Over time and after treatment, the severity of people’s psychological and physical disorders has gradually diminished,” says Jacob Maikere, MSF head of mission in Sierra Leone. “Yet many survivors say that they are still deeply disturbed by the smell of chlorine, which immediately transports them back the horror of the Ebola management centres.”

    Fight against discrimination and stigma

    Ebola survivors and their families also faced stigma when they returned to their communities.

    MSF, together with other organisations and alongside national initiatives, sent teams out into affected communities to spread health messages and to help reduce stigma and discrimination. In Guinea, for example, MSF reached 18,300 people through group and individual sessions.

    “Stigma remains a huge issue for those who survived Ebola and for their families, despite awareness and information campaigns during and after the outbreak,” says Jacob Maikere. “The discrimination takes many forms, with people losing their jobs or their partners, or being rejected by their family or community, all of which can have a hugely destabilising impact on their lives.”

    Health workers hard hit

    Health workers in the three worst-affected countries paid a heavy price for responding to the disease. Many lost their lives. Those who survived witnessed countless deaths, and had to live with the fear that they too would be infected in their own communities as Ebola spread.

    “Health workers in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia saved many of their fellow citizens from Ebola,” says Ibrahim Diallo, MSF head of mission in Guinea. "But the virus created such fear in the country that many were viewed with suspicion or even discriminated against because of the contact that they had with people who were sick.”

    MSF handing over post-Ebola care

    In late September, MSF ended its medical and mental health programmes for survivors in Guinea and Sierra Leone, while in Liberia, post-Ebola activities will finish before the end of the year. Most medical conditions affecting survivors, such as eye and joint problems, have now been treated, and MSF has arranged for those who need ongoing mental health support to receive continuing care within their national health systems or from other organisations.

    Continued MSF care in West Africa

    MSF will continue its efforts to provide services focusing on the unmet health needs of vulnerable people throughout the three affected countries.

    “Any strengthening of health services in the three affected countries must include improving infection control measures, surveillance systems to ensure early monitoring of potential cases, and basic contingency plans allowing for a quick response to an outbreak of Ebola or other diseases,” says Mit Philips, health policy advisor for MSF. “The countries also need catch-up plans for services that lapsed during the epidemic, such as treatment for HIV and TB, as well as preventative services for which coverage remains low.”

    In Monrovia, MSF has opened a paediatric hospital: Bardnesville Junction Hospital. Between January and August 2016, the hospital provided more than 3,280 emergency consultations and admitted 880 children as inpatients, mainly for malaria. The hospital’s neonatal unit has cared for 512 newborn babies.

    MSF is also continuing to provide care to HIV patients in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, and maternity care in the Tonkolili and Koinadugu districts in Sierra Leone. The organisation has also positioned emergency supplies in the region to make sure that medical teams can respond quickly to a future outbreak of Ebola or to other epidemic threats.


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    Source: World Food Programme
    Country: Sierra Leone

    Highlights

    • Eighty households displaced by floods in Port Loko and Kailahun districts received food assistance for one month to help them cope with the shock. Meanwhile, six flood-affected slum communities in Freetown were jointly assessed by WFP and the Office of National Security. A total of 119 households were identified for food assistance.

    • WFP and other UN Agencies conducted a table top Ebola simulation exercise to test interagency operational readiness to respond to an Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak and to identify areas for improvement.

    WFP Assistance

    WFP is implementing activities to support the Government’s National Ebola Recovery Strategy and reverse the negative impacts of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak on food security and nutrition among vulnerable populations.

    Activities under the Country Programme (CP) include school feeding support to primary education of boys and girls. WFP's CP, which contributes to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2 and 17, was designed to empower vulnerable households and individuals with the highest rates of food insecurity and illiteracy in meeting their food and nutrition needs in a sustainable way. The CP is also designed to support the Government to realise its priorities set forth in the Agenda for Prosperity, particularly advancements in the education sector (SDG 4).

    The Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) will (i) strengthen the livelihoods of vulnerable communities through community asset creation and rehabilitation; (ii) improve the nutritional status of malnourished children aged 6-59 months, pregnant and nursing women and people living with HIV and TB; and (iii) develop national capabilities to prepare and respond to future emergencies.
    WFP Sierra Leone Country Brief WFP Assistance The PRRO contributes to restoring and rebuilding livelihoods devastated by EVD, focusing on the most food insecure populations and Ebola survivors, while enhancing utilization of health and nutrition services weakened by the Ebola outbreak.

    Under the PRRO, WFP will continue to implement Purchase for Progress (P4P) to strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers to access reliable markets. Participation in P4P enables smallholders to sell their surplus crops at competitive prices, thus bolstering their income and reducing their poverty. Food procured through P4P is used to support nutrition and asset creation activities under the PRRO.

    The Special Operation (SO) - under which WFP provided operational support to the Sierra Leone inter-agency EVD ‘No Regrets’ Rapid Response Plan which will now be continued under the PRRO - closed in September 2016.


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    Source: World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
    Country: Sierra Leone

    FREETOWN – The State of Food Insecurity in Sierra Leone report launched today by the Government of Sierra Leone, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows more than half of the population – over 3.5 million people – are food insecure, without access to a sufficient amount of safe and nutritious food. Of these, about 600,000 are severely food insecure, eating significantly less food and less varied and nutritious food, and unable to cope with new shocks such as drought, floods and fluctuating food prices. The number of severely food insecure people has increased by 60 percent since 2010.

    The report is the culmination of a Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) of over 34,000 households across Sierra Leone’s 149 chiefdoms and 18 urban wards, making it the largest food security assessment of its kind in the country.

    In his keynote speech at the launch ceremony, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), Professor Monty Jones, said the government was committed to doing what it takes to transform the agriculture sector into an engine for socio-economic growth.

    “The findings of the CFSVA will assist my ministry to design, target and implement programmes that will improve agriculture production and productivity, enhance commercial agriculture, create employment and enhance skills of farmers in a number of areas. We will encourage private sector investment and involvement to improve access to inputs and markets for our farmers. The government and development partners have a key role in designing sound agricultural policies and programmes to effectively meet the priorities of the Government’s National Ebola Recovery Strategy,” he said.

    The districts of Kailahun, Kambia, Port Loko, Pujehun, and Tonkolili have the highest levels of food insecurity. Levels of food insecurity at least doubled from the 2010 CFSVA in the districts of Bombali, Bonthe, Kailahun and Kenema.

    Out of 149 chiefdoms and 18 urban wards surveyed, 110 chiefdoms had food insecurity levels above the national average of 50 percent.

    While the Ebola outbreak accounted for the decline in food security in some districts, notably Kailahun and Kenema, in the majority of districts, food insecurity is a chronic problem, caused by structural factors that affect the food production system and limit the ability of households to produce or buy enough food.

    “The results confirm that drivers of food insecurity are low agricultural productivity, poverty and a lack of resilience, poor road and market accessibility, gender inequality and a lack of income generation diversification. The negative socio-economic impacts of Ebola further exacerbated food insecurity. While the majority of the population relies on agriculture for their livelihoods, the report shows that only 4 percent are growing enough rice to meet their needs for the whole year, and rice production has decreased nationwide by 15 percent over the last five years,” said Nyabenyi Tipo, FAO Representative in Sierra Leone.

    The analysis shows that on average, only 4 percent of farmers use chemical fertilizer, 10 percent have access to improved seed varieties, and 99 percent use manual tools. Very few households are engaged in fishing or livestock rearing. To sell or buy food, households in rural areas have to travel almost eight miles, or one and a half hours, to reach the nearest market.

    “Sierra Leone now has unprecedented insight into its food security situation, with data available at the chiefdom level for the first time. This allows the humanitarian and development community to zero in on the most vulnerable, allowing us to use our resources more efficiently to improve food security, strengthen livelihoods and build resilience to recurrent shocks”, said Peter Scott-Bowden, WFP Country Director in Sierra Leone.

    “With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the findings also provide accurate baseline data for government and development partners to gauge progress in achieving SDG 2 ending hunger,” he added.

    WFP and FAO are supporting the Government of Sierra Leone to bridge the gap between local food production and national demand. The recommendations of the CFSVA underscore the urgent need for an increased investment in sustainable agriculture and rural livelihoods.

    The 2015 CFSVA was financed by the African Development Bank, the European Union and the World Bank. Thirteen local and international NGOs provided technical assistance, in-kind and cash contributions to support the exercise.

    ###\

    About FAO

    FAO leads international efforts to defeat hunger. It helps countries to modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all. FAO focuses special attention on developing rural areas, home to 70 percent of the world's poor and hungry people.

    About WFP

    WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.

    Follow WFP on Twitter @wfp_media @wfp_africa

    For more information, please contact:

    Francis Boima, WFP/Sierra Leone Francis.Boima@wfp.org Jordan Sisson, WFP/Sierra Leone Jordan.Sisson@wfp.org Jaward Keita, FAO/Sierra Leone Keifa.Jaward@fao.org


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    Source: World Food Programme
    Country: Sierra Leone

    As Sierra Leone works to recover from challenges caused by the Ebola outbreak in mid-2014, WFP continues to support sustainable improvements in smallholder farmers' lives and livelihoods under Purchase for Progress (P4P). A key part of these efforts are collaborative efforts with UN Women and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to support the empowerment of women farmers, as well as strengthen household nutrition.

    Since the launch of P4P in Sierra Leone in 2009, WFP and partners have been supporting over 7,000 vulnerable smallholder farmers, more than half of them women. As in many countries, women in Sierra Leone tend to provide the majority of agricultural labour, but their work is generally invisible, unpaid and undervalued. Although women are well-represented in farmer-based organizations and Agricultural Business Centres (ABC) in Sierra Leone, few occupy leadership positions. Limited decision-making power and access to productive resources hinders women’s capacity to improve the food and nutrition security in their households. Women play a critical role in household nutrition as the primary providers of childcare and their leading role in food preparation. Improving their income and decision-making power, can have a key impact on improving the nutrition of their families.

    Women’s leadership and nutrition sensitive agriculture

    In mid-2014, the Ebola outbreak had a devastating effect on local economies and changed the landscape for smallholder agriculture in the affected regions of Sierra Leone. As part of WFP’s efforts to support national recovery efforts aimed at improving agricultural productivity and value addition, WFP, UN Women and IFAD are working together to enhance women farmers’ capabilities and enable them to diversify production to improve household diets through leadership workshops held from 26 to 29 July 2016.

    P4P-supported smallholder farmers, staff from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security and key partners from the Southern, Eastern and Northern districts participated in these workshops.

    The farmers learned the importance of women’s leadership and participation in decision-making for improving livelihoods and food security. They also shared experiences and knowledge with the facilitators and other participants, on how to increase food production to benefit nutrition and income at the household level. Moreover, the workshop also addressed the importance of crop diversification to build reliance to climatic-shocks and price fluctuations, improving food consumption patterns and achieving more gender-equitable income generation opportunities.

    “Thanks to the training, I am more conscious now about how crop diversification can help my family and me to have a balanced diet without costing too much money to my household,” says Maria Kargo, Chairlady of the Sabenty Agricultural Business Centre in Kambia district.

    Innovative methods to engage communities

    The workshops applied IFAD’s Gender Action Learning System (GALS), a community-led process, which uses pictorial tools to support women and men who cannot read or write. GALS helps participants to develop their personal visions for change, appreciate their strengths and weaknesses as well as analyze and address the gender equalities that exist within the family and the community.

    Nandis Kpewa, Chairman of the Moamalleh Marketing Association in Kailahun District said, “I recognize the added value of encouraging women to hold leadership positions within farmer organizations. The men in these groups need to provide more motivation and accept women’s views, encouraging them to participate in the decision making.”


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    Source: Government of Sierra Leone
    Country: Sierra Leone

    The Ministry of Health and Health in collaboration with UNICEF and other partners are poised to kick start the National Polio Round Four Campaign on Friday October 28, 2016 targeting children o-59 months old countrywide.

    Cross section of the press

    Briefing journalists at a press conference held in the conference hall of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation at Youyi Building in Freetown, the Manager National Child Health and Expanded Programme on Immunization (CH/EPI), Dr. Dennis Marke said the campaign is part of the government’s efforts to prevent vaccine preventable diseases and maintain polio eradication of supplementary immunization activities nationwide. Round Three, Dr. Marke reminded the press, have already been conducted in February, April and September 2016.

    Manager CH/EPI, Dr. Dennis Marke

    Round Four,

    Dr. Marke reiterated will be conducted from October 28 to 31, 2016 during which vaccination teams would visit household to administer Oral Polio Vaccine to all beneficiary children.

    He further disclosed that routine vaccines would be administered to all children 0-23 months that were unfortunate and missed any other vaccines.

    Dr. Marke underscored the importance of the vaccine as a life-saving intervention with the aim to achieve 95 percent coverage for oral polio vaccine among the beneficiary 0-59 months of children living in Sierra Leone. Other key intervention the Programme Manager said would include Expanded Programme on Immunization defaulter identification and vaccination with the focus to reach many children, and to provide another opportunity for reaching missed children. An effort aimed at complementing the routine immunization, Dr. Marke reaffirmed.

    Commenting on the political commitment, Dr. Marke reiterated government’s commitment to provide quality accessible and affordable health care delivery services to the nation, and the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah’s dynamic leadership to launch the campaign at Grafton Health Centre come Friday October 28, 2016.

    He reiterated that target group for the national polio campaign includes all children under five years and defaulter tracing for all children less than two years. He encouraged mothers and child minders and communities to take their children for “Marklate” by way of protecting them from getting polio. Dr. Marke maintained that the vaccine is safe and free.

    He reiterated his appeal to ensure that children are not missed from receiving the marklate, and that if the teams did not visit a house, mothers should visit the nearest health centre or maternal child health post. Dr. Marke reminded parents that the more marklate a child gets, the more the child is protected from polio, adding that the vaccine is safe, and does no harm even to the sick child.

    Missing or refusal to take the vaccine, Dr. Marke said increases the risk of polio, and advocated for support from caregiver, parents and the entire community, noting that the polio virus causes a life time paralysis.

    Contributions from partners and the press formed high point during the briefing.

    JAK/KK/MOHS/SLENA


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    Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
    Country: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Mali, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, United Republic of Tanzania

    Summary

    In November 2015, more than 1,000 Cuban nationals were reported to be camped out at the Paso Canoas border crossing with Panama. In view of requirements for entering the country and the fact that these migrants did not meet them, a significant amount of people began to congregate in this border community, taking to living in the streets while they waited for a solution for their immigration status. The Costa Rican government issued permits allowing migrants to enter the country and continue on their way to the United States. Thousands of migrants benefited; however, despite these permits, migrants were unable to enter Nicaraguan territory as they failed to meet Nicaraguan immigration requirements. By March 2016, some 8,000 migrants were in Costa Rican territory. The solution for Cuban nationals came several months later (April to May 2016) after an air bridge between Costa Rica and El Salvador was established; nevertheless, the various needs identified at the onset of this situation and to date led to an immediate humanitarian intervention by the CRRC, which was later joined by other government institutions, churches and organized communities, among others. All of these organizations jointly supported the setting up of 37 collective centres, addressed food, water and sanitation needs, and promoted health; around 8,000 people were airlifted to Mexico.

    As of May 2016, reports indicated the existence of 43 collective centres, 33 communities hosting migrants, 15 active municipal emergency committees, more than 500 volunteers and more than USD$5 million in operating and administrative maintenance executed by Costa Rica’s Emergency Commission. Panama also faced a rapid buildup of Cuban migrants in May 2016 when the Costa Rican government stopped issuing transit permits to migrants, which forced 4,000 migrants that had congregated in Paso Canoas to live in hotels, apartments and houses; this situation continued until late June 2016 when migrants were able to take flights out or find informal routes to travel across the remaining Central American countries.

    After the departure of most of the Cuban nationals in March 2016, a group of Haitians and people from various countries in Asia and Africa were reported at the border in Paso Canoas and Peñas Blancas; most of those from outside the continent were from Burkina Faso, Congo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal and Somalia, among others. However, they were also lacking visas to enter the country, and they started congregating in surrounding streets as they were unable to continue because they were not authorized to enter the country and unable to turn back because Panamanian authorities would not allow them to return; those that managed to evade police started gathering near the Peñas Blancas border crossing with Nicaragua, where they were living in unsuitable conditions in terms of housing, drinking water, food and hygiene.

    On 12 April 2016, migrants were transported back to the Paso Canoas border crossing with Panama by Security Ministry vehicles, which exacerbated the problem given the precarious conditions and the amount of people involved; this led to several institutions deciding to open a "humanitarian aid post" in order to assess basic food, health and hygiene conditions. This post was later handed to the Costa Rican Red Cross to manage and operate it.

    At the end of July 2016, Colombian media outlets observed a rise in the migrants concentrated in Uraba Antioqueño and Choco, which are near Panama’s Darien province. Moreover, while only 35 Haitian migrants were registered by Colombian migration authorities in July 2015, the number of Haitian migr ants has increased significantly, thereby surpassing the total of Cuban migrants. The Panamanian government closed its borders in May 2016; however, it is still permitting the controlled entry and exit of migrants . By August 2016, thousands of migrants were en route to North America, many of them having started their journeys in Brazil and later travelling through Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.

    Immigration authorities in all of the involved countries are doing everything within their power to meet the demand for immigration procedures, and emergency authorities are attempting to meet the humanitarian needs arising in each country's meeting points or points of passage. Panamanian authorities established a reception centre in Nicanor for the migrants (the migrants enter Panama from Las Blancas, Peñitas or Yaviza on the ColombianPanamanian border). From there, the migrants are transported by bus to Paso Canoas, Panama, which is near the border with Costa Rica.

    The entry of migrants at the Colombian-Panamanian border has increased in October 2016; according to health authorities, an average of 300 to 500 migrants enters Panama per day on the Colombian-Panamanian border and only 100 leave the country per day from Panama’s border with Costa Rica, which means more migrants are entering Panama on a daily basis than leaving from it; this influx of migrants has swelled the number of migrants that are st aying in the temporary reception centre in Nicanor. Over the last nine weeks, 7,000 migrants have passed through Panama, and there are approximately 5,000 migrants in Nicanor that are waiting to travel to the border with Costa Rica; the migrants’ average stay in Nicanor is 4 to 6 weeks. In 2016, the centre in Nicanor received 17,000 migrants “formally”; nevertheless, the number of migrants that entered Panama in 2016 could be higher as the centre has not registered all of the migrants that have passed through Panama.

    The surge in migrants in October 2016 to both Panama and Costa Rica and a corresponding increase in the sectorial needs detailed below have necessitated a six-month extension of the appeal; the appeal will now end on 22 May 2017. The IFRC is currently revising the appeal’s emergency plan of action, and it will determine whether the appeal’s budget and activities need to be adjusted in order to represent better the changing scenario.


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    Source: Government of Sierra Leone
    Country: Sierra Leone

    Deputy Health and Sanitation Minister l, Madam Madina Rahman has called on Sierra Leoneans countrywide to join the Ministry and partners to make Sierra Leone a polio free country.

    Launching the Round Four of the National Polio Campaign at the Grafton Community Health Centre on Friday, October 28, 2016, Madam Rahman reminded her audience that the last polio wild virus in the country was in February 2010 and reiterated the need for continued effort to eradicate the disease.

    She encouraged mothers to get their children 0‐59 months immunized against disability noting that the country depend greatly on the future and well‐being of the vulnerable population.
    Those children who missed the Round Three Madam Madina said must make use of the opportunity during the Round Four campaign.
    The Deputy Minister noted the role of husbands in the current exercise and appealed to all men for total support with a view to achieving the desired goal targeting 1. 5 million children nationwide.

    Defaulter tracing the Deputy Minister reiterated would be part of the campaign and reemphasized the need for parents to cooperate with the immunization team noting that it is dangerous for a child to miss any of the vaccine Madam Rahman reiterated government commitment to provide quality affordable and accessible health care delivery services to its citizens and others living in Sierra Leone, and on behalf of the Minister and the government thanked WHO, UNICEF and Rotary International including the Councils, Religious and Traditional Leaders for their continued support.

    The vaccine, Madam Rahman told the Grafton Community and the entire nation is safe and free of cost.

    Making his statement on behalf of the UN Country Team, the World Health Organization (WHO)
    Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) Surveillance Officer, Mr. Balogun Terry congratulated the Ministry of Health and Sanitation for the successful immunization days in February and April and round three in September‐October 2016 in which 1,507,447 children were vaccinated achieving over 98 percent coverage.

    He also commended Sierra Leone for not recording a single case of polio since February 2010, describing the effort of the Ministry to maintain a resilient zero polio case as significant.

    Mr. Terry observed that 1.5 million children under five across the country would benefit at the end of the campaign on October 31, 2016, and appealed to parents and guardians to ensure that all children under age five receive the ‘Marklate’ and other vaccines that they may have missed during the last two campaign.

    He underscored the importance of the campaign and reiterated WHO and UNICEF continued support to the government and people of Sierra Leone to ensure that Sierra Leone is polio free.
    Other highlights include remarks from the Deputy Chief Medical Officer II, Dr. Amara Jambai,
    Deputy Programme Manager, Child Health and Expanded Programme on Immunization, Dr.
    Mariama Murray, Councilor Sheik Ibrahim Conteh of Ward 327 Western Area Rural District and a skit performance depicting the importance of the campaign by Vamboi and Team.

    JAK/MOHS/SLENA


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    Source: UN General Assembly
    Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Myanmar, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, World

    Seventy-first session
    Item 69 (b) of the provisional agenda*
    Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms

    Summary

    In her 2015 report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/29/38, the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, identified the linkage between trafficking in persons and conflict as one of the areas under her mandate on which she intended to focus and to carry out further research.

    In follow-up to her report presented to the Human Rights Council at its twentysixth session (A/HRC/32/41, the present report raises international awareness of the forms and nature of trafficking related to the complex situation of conflict. The first section provides the contextual background and identifies trafficking in persons as an increasingly common feature of modern conflict.

    The second section focuses on the contextual perspective by considering the most common forms of trafficking in conflict from three perspectives: (a) trafficking of persons fleeing conflict, addressing the situation of trafficking of persons internally displaced by conflict and that of refugees and asylum seekers fleeing conflict; (b) trafficking during conflict, which investigates trafficking in persons, including boys, girls and migrants, for military service and for purposes of sexual and labour exploitation; and (c) trafficking in post-conflict situations, including trafficking involving peacekeepers.

    Lastly, the report offers recommendations to address trafficking in conflict and post-conflict situations in collaboration with States, the United Nations, civil society and the international community in relation to: (a) trafficking of persons in conflict areas or trafficking of persons fleeing conflict; (b) protecting children from trafficking; (c) strengthening responses to address trafficking of women and girls for purposes of sexual exploitation in conflict and post-conflict situations; (d) prevention of trafficking in persons for labour exploitation in conflict and post-conflict areas; and (e) anti-trafficking activities in peacekeeping operations.


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    Source: UN General Assembly
    Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Myanmar, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, World

    Soixante et onzième session
    Point 69 b) de l’ordre du jour provisoire*
    Promotion et protection des droits de l’homme : questions relatives aux droits de l’homme, y compris les divers moyens de mieux assurer l’exercice effectif des droits de l’homme et des libertés fondamentales

    Résumé

    Dans son rapport de 2015 au Conseil des droits de l’homme (A/HRC/29/38), la Rapporteuse spéciale du Conseil sur la traite des êtres humains, en particulier des femmes et des enfants, a identifié le lien entre la traite des êtres humains et les conflits comme étant un thème qui entrait dans le cadre de son mandat et qu’elle comptait étudier plus avant.

    Le présent rapport, qui fait suite à celui que la Rapporteuse spéciale a soumis à la vingt-sixième session du Conseil des droits de l’homme (A/HRC/32/41), s’emploie à sensibiliser l’opinion internationale aux formes et à la nature de la traite dans les situations complexes que sont les conflits. La première partie replace le problème de la traite d’êtres humains dans son contexte et le présente comme un aspect de plus en plus fréquent des conflits modernes.

    La deuxième partie traite essentiellement des formes les plus courantes de la traite en situation de conflit, qui sont abordées sous les trois angles suivants : a) la traite des personnes qui fuient des conflits, notamment la situation des personnes déplacées par un conflit ainsi que des réfugiés et des demandeurs d’asile fuyant un conflit; b) la traite durant un conflit, notamment celle d’êtres humains dont des garçons, des filles et des migrants, à des fins d’enrôlement dans les rangs de forces armées, d’exploitation sexuelle et d’exploitation par le travail; et c) la traite dans les situations d’après conflit, notamment celle qui met en jeu des soldats de la paix.

    Le rapport énonce en conclusion une série de recommandations tendant à ce que l’on lutte contre la traite en situation de conflit et d’après conflit, dans le cadre d’une collaboration entre les États, l’Organisation des Nations Unies, la société civile et la communauté internationale, et en particulier à ce que l’on : a) s’attaque à la traite des personnes présentes dans les zones de conflits ou qui fuient un conflit; b) protège les enfants contre la traite d’êtres humains; c) renforce les moyens de lutter contre la traite des femmes et des filles à des fins d’exploitation sexuelle, pendant et après un conflit; d) prévienne la traite d’êtres humains à des fins d’exploitation par le travail dans les régions touchées par un conflit ou qui s’en relèvent; et e) intègre les activités menées en vue de lutter contre la traite dans les opérations de maintien de la paix.


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    Source: UN General Assembly
    Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Myanmar, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, World

    Septuagésimo primer período de sesiones
    Tema 69 b) del programa provisional*
    Promoción y protección de los derechos humanos: Cuestiones de derechos humanos, incluidos otros medios de mejorar el goce efectivo de los derechos humanos y las libertades fundamentales

    Resumen

    En su informe de 2015 presentado al Consejo de Derechos Humanos (A/HRC/29/38), la Relatora Especial del Consejo de Derechos Humanos sobre la trata de personas, especialmente mujeres y niños, indicó que la relación entre la trata de personas y los conflictos era una de las esferas incluidas en su mandato en la que tenía intenciones de centrarse y llevar adelante más investigaciones.

    Como seguimiento del informe presentado al Consejo de Derechos Humanos en su 26° período de sesiones (A/HRC/32/41), en el presente informe se promueve la conciencia de la comunidad internacional acerca de las formas y la naturaleza de la trata en relación con la compleja situación de conflicto. En la primera sección se presentan los antecedentes contextuales, y se describe la trata de personas como una característica cada vez más frecuente de los conflictos modernos.

    En la segunda sección se centra la atención en la perspectiva contextual, y se analizan las formas más comunes de la trata en los conflictos, considerando tres perspectivas: a) la trata de personas que huyen de conflictos, en particular la manera de hacer frente a la situación de trata de los desplazados internos a causa de los conflictos y la de los refugiados y solicitantes de asilo que huyen de ellos; b) la trata durante los conflictos, donde se investiga la trata de personas, incluidos los niños, las niñas y los migrantes, para su enrolamiento en el servicio militar y con fines de explotación sexual y laboral; y c) la trata en situaciones posteriores a conflictos, en particular la trata de personas relacionada con el personal de mantenimiento de la paz.

    Por último, en el informe se formulan recomendaciones para hacer frente a la trata en situaciones de conflicto y posteriores a conflictos, en colaboración con los Estados, las Naciones Unidas, la sociedad civil y la comunidad internacional en relación con: a) la trata de personas en zonas de conflicto, o la trata de person as que huyen de conflictos; b) la protección de los niños contra la trata; c) el fortalecimiento de las medidas de respuesta orientadas a hacer frente a la trata de mujeres y niñas con fines de explotación sexual en situaciones de conflicto y posteriores a conflictos; d) la prevención de la trata de personas con fines de explotación laboral en zonas donde hay o ha habido conflictos; y e) las actividades de lucha contra la trata en las operaciones de mantenimiento de la paz.


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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, World, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

    Key Messages

    • In West Africa, the regional harvest outlook is favorable as the 2015/16 marketing year came to a close in September. Staple food production during the 2016/17 marketing year is expected to be similar to 2015/16 and well above average. International rice and wheat imports continue to support regional market supplies. Markets remained disrupted throughout the Lake Chad Basin and in parts of Central and Northern Mali. The recent depreciation of the Naira has led to price increases across Nigeria and reduced purchasing power for livestock and cash crops in the Sahel.

    • In East Africa, staple food prices seasonally declined slightly but remained very high in South Sudan following abrupt escalation of conflict in Juba in July and the resulting significant disruption of market activity. Maize and sorghum prices increased in Ethiopia following the recent below-average Belg harvest and tightening of supplies. Maize prices were seasonally stable in surplus-producing Tanzania and Uganda, except in the Karamoja region where below-average harvests led to price increases. Markets remain disrupted by insecurity in Yemen.

    • In Southern Africa, regional maize availability is currently adequate, despite consecutive years of well-below average regional production. Maize prices are above their respective 2015 and five-year average levels region wide. Imports by South Africa and Zimbabwe from well-supplied international grain markets have offset a portion of the regional deficit, while maize export restrictions in Zambia remained in place. Prices remain high and variable in Mozambique, which is experiencing supply constraints and where other factors contribute to food trade and price dynamics.

    • In Central America, maize and bean supplies from the Primera harvest began to supply markets across the region, which is estimated to be near average levels. Maize prices seasonally declined while bean price trends were mixed. In Haiti, staple food markets remained well supplied in September. However, prices are expected to increase in the coming months due to significant crop loss from hurricane Mathew.

    • In Central Asia, near average regional harvests and above-average stocks sustained adequate supplies. Prices are below 2015 levels in Kazakhstan and above-average in structurally-deficit Tajikistan. Prices continued to be near average in Afghanistan and Pakistan. International staple food markets remain well supplied. Maize, rice, and soybean prices fell while wheat prices increased in September. Crude oil prices increased and remained well below average.


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    Source: Global Public Policy Institute, Humanitarian Outcomes
    Country: Afghanistan, Guinea, Iraq, Liberia, Nepal, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World

    In conflict situations, such as those in Afghanistan and Somalia, simple communication technologies can help researchers and humanitarian organisations collect more accurate data on the effects of humanitarian aid. Electronic surveys taken with smartphones, for example, can automatically assess collected data and prevent implausible responses from being entered. This toolkit weighs the benefits – and the risks – of technology used in aid and development.


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    Source: African Development Bank, Government of Sierra Leone, World Bank, World Food Programme, European Union, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
    Country: Sierra Leone

    The 2015 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) was conducted at a time when the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic started to recede in Sierra Leone. Data was collected using smart phones between September and October 2015, at the end of the “lean season” when the rains are heavy and frequent, roads become inaccessible (limiting people’s ability to access markets) and food stocks become depleted. The 2015 CFSVA surveyed a total of 34,328 households across all of Sierra Leone’s 149 chiefdoms and 18 urban wards, making it the largest ever food security assessment of its kind in the country. At the request of the Government, the survey disaggregates its results to the chiefdom level, the smallest administrative unit in Sierra Leone. This micro-level analysis enables the Government and its development partners to invest in pinpointed programming. The aim is to successfully target the most vulnerable in order to drive economic recovery as the country continues to implement the National Ebola Recovery Strategy (NERS). The results thus provide an unprecedented insight into the state of food security in Sierra Leone.


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    Source: Oxfam
    Country: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, World

    1 INTRODUCTION

    The Ebola response in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea demonstrated that community engagement is critical in responding to epidemics. This was not always a guiding principle in the fight against Ebola, which initially prioritized biomedical and militarized responses. Working in partnership with communities – providing space to listen and acknowledge distinct needs – only came later in the response. Incorporating communities in different aspects of the response was partly hampered by the inflexibility of some agencies, which wanted to promote a perfect model for community engagement. Arguably, these tended to overlook the diversity within communities, and did not respond to the realities of Ebola’s spread.

    During an inter-agency social mobilization workshop organized by Oxfam in September 2015, a group of practitioners and technical experts agreed that it would be best to explore diverse models of community empowerment and action that adhered to specific key principles rather than promote a fixed ‘one size fits all’ model. The group acknowledged the need for phased and flexible approaches that support communities, and for further research into the most effective ways to respond to disease outbreaks.

    1.1 ABOUT THIS GUIDE

    This guide is a compilation of best practices and key lessons learned through Oxfam’s experience of community engagement in the 2014–15 Ebola responses in Sierra Leone and Liberia. It provides ideas for all stages of an intervention, including the importance of assessment; principles and methods for community engagement; the challenges of scaling-up responses and changing communities’ behaviours; and reflections on how to better advocate for communities. Drawing on semi-structured interviews and input from practitioners in various agencies, as well as a literature review, this guide aims to inform public health practitioners and programme teams about the design and implementation of community-centred approaches during a disease outbreak. The lessons learned can also be applied more generally to Oxfam’s community-focused water, sanitation and health (WASH) programming.


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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Sierra Leone

    By Harriet Mason

    The recent launch of The State of Food Insecurity in Sierra Leone report shows just how dire the situation of food insecurity is in the country. More than half of the population – over 3.5 million people – do not have access to a sufficient amount of safe and nutritious food. In the district of Port Loko, women are coming together in Mothers’ Support Groups to help end malnutrition by sharing experiences and advice.

    PORT LOKO, Sierra Leone, 3 November 2016 – It’s a rainy morning in Gbombana village, Port Loko district, but several women – and some men – have braved the downpour to get to the health centre. They have come for the weekly meeting of the Gbombana Mothers’ Support Group, a community platform for parents to share experiences and advice on infant and young child nutrition.

    Fatmata Bah is the chairlady of the group. “We come together once a week to talk about how we can ensure our families, especially our children, are fed properly so that they grow up to be healthy and strong,” she said. Fatmata and her colleagues were trained to talk to parents and encourage them to exclusively breastfeed babies under six months old, and give children 6–24 months old a healthy balanced diet using local family foods along with continued breastfeeding.

    According to her, the group has also been encouraging village residents, especially group members, to make backyard gardens so they can more easily provide fresh fruit and vegetables to nourish their families.

    Overcoming malnutrition

    In Port Loko district, the malnutrition rate remains high, with more than 9,000 malnourished children recorded in the first quarter of 2016 (for a total district population of 614,063). To promote good nutrition practices, UNICEF partner Development Initiative Programme (DIP), with support from USAID, has helped communities create 1,400 Mothers’ Support Groups in the district. “The situation was really bad before we formed these groups, as most people in the district were unaware of malnutrition, its causes and how to prevent it,” said Watta Sannoh, nutrition officer at DIP. “They have been pivotal in increasing awareness about malnutrition, which is a key step in addressing it.”

    The group works closely with community based health workers to provide nutrition advice to pregnant women, mothers of breastfeeding babies, and infants. It also helps screen for malnourished children. Every Friday, in the company of one of the health workers, they visit at least one of the four villages the group covers.

    “We measure every child’s arm with a Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) measuring tape to easily find out their nutritional status, and find the malnourished ones which we send to the health facility for treatment,” said Fatmata. According to her, even though malnutrition is still a concern in villages around them, deaths have become a lot rarer as they strive to see that every case is reported, referred for treatment and monitored. Between January and July this year, the group carried out 408 screenings, and identified and referred 15 severely malnourished and 18 moderately malnourished children.

    The number of children in Port Loko screened for malnutrition in the first quarter of 2016 was 28,402 (an increase of 33 per cent from the 21,299 screened in the first quarter of 2015), mainly due to the outreach efforts by the MSGs. First quarter data from the National Nutrition Surveillance Office shows a 32 per cent increase in the number of children with good nutritional status nationally, as compared to 2015 (392,917 vs 297,107).

    Strengthening community bonds

    According to Sullay Bah, secretary of the Gbombana Mothers’ Support Group, aside from talking to families about nutrition, they also engage in income generating activities: “Our group has a one acre mutual farm land where we grow various crops, depending on the season. We sell some of the proceeds, share some among ourselves and keep some for re-planting,” he said. A savings and loans scheme called osusu was also set up to help members improve their economic status. “We started a weekly village savings and loan programme to help us save and have access to loans to start small businesses,” he added.

    Through this initiative, most members of the group have started small businesses which are helping them earn money to support their families. “I never thought I was going to be able to own a house,” said Aminata Bundu, a founding member of the group. “But because of this osusu programme I started a business and I have been putting the profits into good use. Now, I have become the proud owner of a four-bedroom house and I can take care of my family, especially the feeding needs, with much ease,” she added. The village savings and loan programme has also helped families afford basic food they don’t grow in their gardens, to nourish their children.

    Isatu Bangura, another member, agrees that the group has been a vital support mechanism to families in the village. “Now we all come together to joke and keep company, while we talk about our problems and find solutions to keep ourselves and our children healthy.”

    Chairlady Fatmata pledges her group’s continued efforts in the fight to eliminate malnutrition in and around their community. She is optimistic for the years ahead. “We won’t rest until we drive malnutrition away.”


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    Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation
    Country: Sierra Leone

    by Kieran Guilbert | KieranG77 | Thomson Reuters Foundation

    Monday, 7 November 2016 11:50 GMT

    While most families devastated by Ebola have received humanitarian aid, at least 1,400 children orphaned by the epidemic urgently need support

    DAKAR, Nov 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Thousands of Ebola orphans, teenage mothers and children in charge of households in Sierra Leone are struggling to feed themselves and their families amid widespread food shortages in the West African nation, a British charity said on Monday.

    While most families devastated by Ebola have received humanitarian aid, at least 1,400 children orphaned by the epidemic urgently need support, according to Street Child.

    The world's worst outbreak of the disease - now officially over - killed more than 11,300 people and infected some 28,600 as it swept through Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea from 2013.

    "Teenage orphans have taken on the burden of looking after their young siblings and are struggling to cope," Street Child's chief executive officer Tom Dannatt said in a statement.

    "Several have dropped out of school, sacrificing their own futures to try and make sure that their brothers and sisters can stay in education," Dannatt added. "Sadly, running a business and a household is proving too tough for many of them."

    Some 3.5 million people - more than half of Sierra Leone's population of six million - do not have enough safe and nutritious food to eat, the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said last month.

    Food shortages in most of the country are caused by problems that predate the Ebola outbreak, according to the U.N. food agencies, which said the number of people "severely" affected by a lack of food has increased by 60 percent since 2010.

    The shortages, which have seen the price of a bag of rice more than double since 2014, have hit orphans, teenage mothers and child-headed households the hardest, Street Child said.

    The Ebola epidemic left more than 12,000 children orphaned while at least 18,000 teenage girls became pregnant during the outbreak, according to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

    "A collapsed economy that is no longer propped up by the aid given during and immediately after Ebola means that life is very hard for everyone," Dannatt said, adding that more people may go hungry and more girls may be forced to sell sex to afford food.

    (Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)


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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen, Zimbabwe


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    Source: Amnesty International
    Country: Sierra Leone

    Sierra Leone must lift a deeply discriminatory ban on visibly pregnant girls attending school and taking exams, which continues to entrench gender inequality in the country and puts thousands of teenage girls’ futures at risk, Amnesty International said today, a year on from its report on the issue.

    “The prohibition on visibly pregnant girls attending mainstream schools and taking exams is hopelessly misguided, and is doing nothing to address the root causes of Sierra Leone’s high teenage pregnancy rate, which surged during the devastating Ebola crisis, and remains high despite this ban,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

    “Rather than humiliating and excluding teenage girls, Sierra Leone’s authorities should focus on increasing sexual and reproductive health information in schools, and protecting girls from sexual violence and abusive relationships. Unless these issues are addressed the cycle of unwanted early pregnancy will continue for generations to come.”

    The prohibition was declared official government policy in April 2015, shortly before schools re-opened following the Ebola crisis. More than a year and a half later Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the ban is still in place, despite national and international criticism.

    Amnesty International spoke to 68 girls aged between 15 and 20 years who were either pregnant or had given birth recently in the Western Urban and Western Rural areas of Sierra Leone. They also spoke to 26 national and international civil society actors, teachers and government officials in order to assess the impact of the ban.

    The majority of girls interviewed had become pregnant during the Ebola outbreak, when there was an increase in teenage pregnancy, accompanied by a spike in sexual violence. The negative economic impact of the Ebola crisis led to an increase in exploitative and abusive relationships.

    Most girls said the policy had left them feeling abandoned and discouraged at not being able to go to school. They described their frustration at being unable to sit exams they had studied hard for.

    One girl told our researchers: “I would have been able to do the exam. I was frequently with my books. Even if you are pregnant, if you have been studying you will be able to do the exam”

    Girls also spoke about their frustration at having to repeat the year after they give birth as they have missed out on the opportunity to sit the exam when pregnant:

    “I have to repeat the year again. I feel bad as I see my friends moving forward to the next year,” a 17-year-old girl told Amnesty International.

    Stigma surrounding teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone means that girls are made to feel ashamed for being pregnant and sometimes ostracized, or even abused, by their families and teachers.

    One girl Amnesty International spoke to said she had voluntarily dropped out of school after seeing how her class mates were treated in the past: “One teacher announced … that the girl was pregnant in front of the whole school, took her bag away (she was protecting her stomach) and beat her with a cane.”

    In May 2015, in response to international and national pressure, Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma announced the establishment of an alternative “bridging” education system that would allow pregnant girls to continue going to school, but in different premises or at different times to their peers.

    Despite this parallel system providing the girls with access to a limited form of education, President Koroma, in his March 2016 Women’s Day address, appeared to confirm that it was based in part on negative stereotypes about pregnant girls when he stated, “They will continue to receive formal education without allowing them to mingle in the same class with other school going girls. Let's go back to the basics and protect our values and culture."

    Ministry of Education officials told Amnesty International that 14,500 girls initially registered for the scheme and that around 5000 had been reintegrated into mainstream school after giving birth. Classes were held three times a week for around two to three hours a day. The learning curriculum used in the scheme differed to that of mainstream schools and focused only on core subjects. Girls were also provided with health information and services, such as family planning.

    The majority of the girls Amnesty International spoke to had positive feedback about the bridging system. A few girls said they preferred it to their normal school due to the stigma faced.

    One girl told Amnesty International: “I was ashamed, in the normal school everybody would had laughed at me.”

    However, several girls stated that they would have preferred to stay on in their normal school if they had a choice.

    “[They] only taught us maths and English – but I was learning commercial studies in school and they did not teach us that,” one girl told Amnesty International.

    Another girl said, “I would choose to go to my school if I had a choice as the school would give me results [exam grades]. When I give birth I will continue at my own school and the learning centre is only for when I am pregnant.”

    The bridging scheme ended in August 2016 but alternative classes for pregnant girls will continue under a new scheme, run by the Ministry of Education with support from UNICEF and the UK government, which will have a broader focus on girls who have dropped out of school for a variety of reasons as well as interventions to help keep girls in school. The new scheme will run for 17 months from November 2016.

    Amnesty International and national experts have welcomed the continued focus on girls’ education through this programme. However, concern still remains about the lack of choice for pregnant girls due to the ban and their inability to sit exams which is contrary to Sierra Leone’s legal obligations to provide equal access to quality education for all children

    Special schools for pregnant girls are not the solution to addressing Sierra Leone’s high teenage pregnancy rate. Despite recommendations from Amnesty International, the Child Rights Committee and national organisations, sexual and reproductive health information is still not part of the formal school curriculum. The majority of girls told Amnesty International that they did not know about family planning and had little or no sex education before becoming pregnant.

    One girl told our researchers “In school they do not really teach us about family planning. They think we are too young, or it is bad or that it will encourage you to have sex.”

    Girls also had a lot of fear and misinformation about family planning.

    A 19 year old girl who was four months pregnant said:

    “I used the injection for 1 or 2 years but I did not get my period. Someone told us that the injection killed a girl as you don’t get your period. I thought let me stop the injection until I get my period. I did not know where I could ask questions about this. Then I got pregnant.”

    Girls who become pregnant can face complex, intersecting barriers to continuing their education. Beyond the pregnancy ban, school fees were also a major concern for the majority of girls Amnesty International spoke to.

    In a country where 72% of the population lives in extreme poverty, these fees, and the cost of having a child, can be crippling. In addition, the stigma around teenage pregnancy means that many families withdraw their financial support which makes it very difficult for many girls to return to mainstream education even after their babies are born.

    As one girl told Amnesty International:

    “I can’t go back to my school as I can’t pay the fees. I am trying to do business and going to a private lesson. I don’t have anyone to help me.”

    “Unless barriers to education are removed, Sierra Leone’s government is badly letting down its girls and putting their futures at risk. In line with its international obligations the government should take concrete steps to progressively ensure access to education for all girls – including subsidies for girls who require them – as part of its education strategy,” said Alioune Tine.

    “Eradicating the stigma surrounding pregnant girls is also key. Sierra Leone has made great efforts to tackle stigma for Ebola survivors, and it should ensure that teenagers in highly vulnerable situations are protected and supported by their teachers, families and their communities; rather than shamed and blamed.”

    Background

    In November 2015 a report by Amnesty International estimated that up to 10,000 girls were affected by the ban on visibly pregnant girls attending school and sitting exams. Various studies have reported there was an increase in teenage pregnancy during the Ebola outbreak. A study in 2016 by the Secure Livelihoods Consortium stated that UNFPA surveys indicate 18,119 teenage girls became pregnant during the Ebola outbreak.

    Even before Ebola broke out in late 2013, Sierra Leone had one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the world, with 28% of girls aged 15-19 years pregnant or having already given birth at least once

    The Committee on the Rights of the Child in its recent review in October 2016 urged Sierra Leone to immediately lift the discriminatory ban on pregnant girls attending mainstream school and sitting exams, and ensure that they and adolescent mothers are supported and assisted in continuing their education in mainstream schools. Similar recommendations were made by many countries during the Universal Periodic Review process by the Human Rights Council in January 2016, which were not accepted by Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission, Education for All Coalition, Civil Society Collective on Early Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy and the United Nations Country Team in Sierra Leone issued statements in 2015 opposing the ban.

    The practice of excluding pregnant girls from mainstream education and sitting exams has been a common practice in Sierra Leone for over a decade; however the official declaration of the ban in April 2015 turned an informal, sporadic practice into government policy, formalising and exacerbating the issue. Over 10 years ago, after the end of the civil war, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made an imperative recommendation that the practice of expelling girls who become pregnant from educational institutions is discriminatory and archaic.


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    Source: IRIN
    Country: Sierra Leone

    Sierra Leone commemorates the victims

    Ingrid Gercama

    It was an unusual day in Freetown, a West African city that loves to be loud. For three long minutes yesterday, it was eerily quiet.


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    Source: Department for International Development
    Country: Sierra Leone, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    UK support will help develop resilient health systems, improve education and increase access to clean water and electricity.

    International Development Secretary Priti Patel has visited Sierra Leone to see first-hand how the UK is building upon its leadership during the Ebola crisis by helping the country to develop resilient health systems, improve education and increase access to water and electricity.

    The visit took place during the first anniversary of the end of the Ebola outbreak and Ms Patel joined survivors and community activists at Port Loko district hospital for a national three minute silence.

    Together they honoured the bravery of the thousands of Sierra Leoneans who fought Ebola and remembered all those who sadly lost their lives during the outbreak.

    The survivors and activists also explained their experiences of the Ebola crisis and shared their hopes for the future with the International Development Secretary.

    The UK led the international response to the country’s Ebola crisis and has committed to supporting the President’s recovery priorities through a 2 year £240 million programme. The programme is helping to improve the lives of Sierra Leoneans, including building resilient health systems, improving education and increasing access to water and electricity.

    During her visit Ms Patel called on His Excellency President Koroma at Sierra Leone’s State House, to discuss the continuing partnership between the UK and Sierra Leone.

    The International Development Secretary met several members of the Cabinet, including the Ministers of Finance, Health, Education, Energy and Water to discuss the results being delivered through the recovery programme.

    Ms Patel said:

    "I’ve been truly humbled by the strength and resilience of the Sierra Leonean people as they look to the future while recovering from the devastating effects of Ebola."

    "In Freetown and Port Loko I saw how UK aid saved lives during the outbreak and is now helping to rebuild the country. Our partnership will ensure Sierra Leone emerges stronger from the disaster by creating a more effective and robust health system."

    "Global Britain is leading the way to ensure that Sierra Leone - and the world - is better equipped to quickly and effectively tackle future health emergencies at source. This is firmly in all our interests".

    "UK aid is also helping people across the country, especially girls and women, to access economic opportunities and education. This is crucial for sustainable growth and long-term prosperity.‎"

    During a visit to a primary health facility at nearby New Maforki Ms Patel discussed with nurses and midwives how UK support is helping to reduce very high levels of maternal and infant deaths. This partnership with the Sierra Leonean government will see 60,000 additional people have access to family planning services.

    As part of the recovery programme UK aid will also help provide 800,000 more people with sustainable access to clean water and sanitation. At Brama village primary school Ms Patel met children and women who are benefitting from a clean and safe water pump and toilets.

    In the early recovery period following Ebola, 80% of the 29,400 petty traders UK aid helped get back to work were women. Before leaving central Freetown, the International Development Secretary talked to women market traders about the challenges they face, and also spoke to local businesses and investors about how to foster more economic growth that will create jobs and prosperity in Sierra Leone.

    While in Port Loko Ms Patel talked to the head boy and girl of a school in Maforki about how new classrooms funded by UK aid will ease overcrowding and ensure they can continue their education. The UK will improve the quality of education for 1.4 million children in Sierra Leone over the next 5 years.


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