Sierra Leone is ranked 179th on the Human Development Index and the violent ten-year conflict (1991-2002) included the use of amputation as a weapon of war and power tactic. Along with birth defects and accidents, there are estimated to be half a million people living with a disability in Sierra Leone, with the whole population estimated at 6 million. Estimates of the number of amputations vary but some put the figure as high as 32,000.
Some Facts about Sierra Leone:
Disabled individuals and amputees face wide marginalisation in Sierra Leone:
- There was no registration of those with amputations by the government after the war and as a result there were no government-supported programmes to aid individuals who had been affected by the war.
- Disabled individuals are 2.7 times more likely to experience physical abuse than those without disabilities
- Many face stigma and exclusion from society because of prevalent beliefs in black magic. This belief is particularly widespread in rural areas.
- Many children with life-threatening infections do not receive treatment because many believe they can be cured by witch doctors.
- Sierra Leone is at least 75 years behind the MDG’s universal primary education goal
However, Sierra Leone has recently signed and ratified the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and their own Person’s with Disability Act was established in 2011 giving hope to those with disabilities. The act is a breakthrough in terms of rights and tackling discrimination, with a focus on equal opportunities. Yet, the problem is enforcing these laws in remote areas. The Ebola-Crisis meant that disability was placed as a low-priority by the government and aid agenda. ELoH’s work is continuing to make an impact post-Ebola.
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