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Ebola blamed for rise in unemployment in Liberia

By Moses Owen Browne                 Moses Owen Browne

 

 

Unemployment is causing increasing panic among Liberians as they struggle with the after effects of the Ebola virus.  In northern Nimba County, people complain of the lack of jobs and employment opportunities to sustain themselves.

It is reported that only 20% of the county’s total population was employed – and the Ebola outbreak has made the situation even worse.

“I was laid off in September during the height of the Ebola crisis,” says Tenneh Lassana, a nurse from Nimba. I have only my little salary for the period I’ve worked.” Lassana worked for the Evening Star, a local clinic in Ganta before her dismissal.

“I have been home doing nothing for at least five months now without a job, with no money to sustain my family,” she said.

Lassana believes the organisations she worked for closed down due to Ebola, and left the country.

John Konah Digler from Ganta said many people are out of work in the county, and some have left for Monrovia to find work.

Digler’s mother, who provided for the family of 16, was laid off from an international NGO in August – and since then they have been starving.

Larry Togba, a former spokesman for the Cocopa Rubber Plantation Worker’s Union, says he has been out of work for eight months.

“I was amongst 25 employees that were laid off when Ebola started and today many of us are without jobs. However, some of my colleagues are now riding motor bikes to survive.

“We are catching hell. I do not have the first dime to even pay my children school fees and the government says schools will open in March.”

Togba now lives in Boe Community, Ganta with his five children’ two boys and three girls.

“I have to send my children in the streets to sell cold water and boil eggs because it’s not easy to feed them. Things are very tough,” he said.

“Everything is expensive – even a cup of rice is L$30.00, and I don’t have money at all.”

With schools re-opening on Monday, many children and students will not return to the classrooms during this academic school year, due the economic constraints of their parents.

“I am not able to pay my fees, it will take me at least seven months of sales to get back on course,” said Anna Nance, a student at the University of Liberia.

Nance sells cosmetics such as beauty soap, make up, cream and body lotion at the busy water market in Monrovia.

Most of the schools operating in the country are private, and fees charged per semester are very high in the midst of economic constraint.

With no other option, most of these children now see themselves at street corners finding odd jobs to earn money and return to the classroom.

Koala Oumarou, Country Director of Plan Liberia, said: “It must be a priority to get children back into school. If these children are to contribute to the development of Liberia, it must start now with their education and learning.”

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