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War Widows in Sierra Leone: NaCSA to the rescue

14 September 2018 at 02:14 | 1429 views

By Emperor Bailor Jalloh, Freetown, Sierra Leone

The National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) a government implementing agency of the Republic of Sierra Leone has commenced the long outstanding Reparation Programme of 8,045 War Widows and Victims of Sexual Violence.

During the country’s 11 years of civil conflict it was created as an emergency operation to address the desperate plight of war widows and victims of sexual violence.

. The payment of the Rehabilitation Grants to those war victims and the process of the SLPP led government providing Financial Year 2018 allocation of Le 11.4 billion in three installments to cover payment of Rehabilitation Grants and other project activities are two of the resolutions in the tripartite meeting of the Ministry of Finance, Legal Aid Board and NaCSA held on Monday the 30th of July, 2018.

In a recent exclusive interview with this medium in his NaCSA office in Freetown, the Programme Manager for Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Mr. George Nyambe Williams said the 8,045 War Widows and Victims of Sexual Violence are to be paid Rehabilitation Grants of Le 1.2 million Leones ( about 150 USD) per beneficiary and Le 400.000 ( about 50 USD) per tranche in three tranches including August, September and October 2018 in the 16 Districts of the country through the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank.

Nyambe Williams also said NaCSA has conducted a one day session for the beneficiaries on Financial Literacy and Income Generation Activities (IGA) at regional level for collective action and sustainable growth. He added that reparation is a human right and inner satisfaction of victims and poverty alleviation.

He also stated that the Commission is embarking on re- verification of the residual caseload that was not previously re- verified in all the districts to ensure the entire caseload is captured in this final payment that will end what many see as the sad chapter of the war in the country’s history.

Nyambe Williams added that the main objective of the reparation programme was to restore the dignity of the war victims whose human rights were grossly violated during the brutal war. And since many Sierra Leoneans in- country were affected by the war, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) focused on the aspect of human rights and recommended five categories of war victims who should be supported by the government and the international community : the amputees, the war wounded, the war widows,victims of sexual violence and orphans.

In 2008, he went on, the international community rendered the first assistance of USD 3 million through the United Nations Peace Building Fund to start the reparation programme because of the apparent financial difficulty of the past government of Sierra Leone to commence the reparation programme and the first aspect of the reparation programme was to undertake a nationwide registration of the five categories of war victims - District Registration and Mobile Registration.

The District Registration was focused on the five categories which led to some challenges and limitations because some victims were severely affected and unable to travel to the district headquarter towns to register and that NaCSA decided to embark on mobile registrations in the 149 chiefdoms of the country to ensure that all those in the five categories were registered.

Manager Williams also added that the second aspect of the reparation programme was psycho- social counselling to address the traumatic effects of the war and that NaCSA outsourced that activity to competent civil society groups and other women’s organizations that are knowledgeable in psycho- social counselling and 16,500 war victims benefited from that psycho- social support while the other phase of the reparation programme was symbolic reparation that engaged communities by bringing perpetrators and war victims together for perpetrators to express remorse through apologies and to conduct symbolic befitting burials for victims who were buried in mass graves during the war. NaCSA was only able to do such an exercise in 40 of the 149 chiefdoms of the country due to a funding challenge.

Giving a brief background to the reparation programme, Williams stated that the reparation programme came out of the country’s Lome Peace Agreement between the government of Sierra Leone under the stewardship of the late President Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) under the leadership of the late Corporal Foday Sankoh (late ) on the 7th of July, 1999.

The agreement made provision for the setting up of instruments that could facilitate the restoration of peace in the country, including the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) while the Special Court dealt with those who bore the greatest responsibility for the war. The TRC was mandated to look into the causes and effects of the war and to make recommendations that will facilitate the restoration of peace in the country.

The TRC conducted lot of assessments to unearth the causes and effects of the war and one of the recommendations of the TRC was a reparation programme and NaCSA was designated by the government to implement it because the Commission had the requisite infrastructure, institutional capacity and track record in dealing with humanitarian assistance and the settlement of refugees and internally displaced persons.

NaCSA’s mandate which was to end in 2008, was extended to 2018. Soon the reparation programme became a pivotal agenda for NaCSA in the implementation of development activities facilitated by government and its development partners.

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