Liberia: Visually Impaired People Protest for Covid-19 Food

17 September 2020

In the wake of rumors about exhaustion of the government Corona virus stimulus food package for vulnerable Liberians, group of visually-impaired citizens from the Hope in God Association of the Blind have protested before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia, demanding their share of the stimulus package.

Spokesman James A. Kaiwood complained since the start of the food distribution, they from the Hope in God Association of the Blind, a vulnerable group, are yet to benefit.

Kaiwood said they have remained patient, while going forth and back, communicating with the distribution team through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, for their package, but to no avail.

He said the only option available to them after repeated engagements have failed, is to assemble at the official home of President Weah to demand his attention, which is their constitutional right.

"We have been patient; that's why it took us so long; It has gone three weeks. When it first started, we have been in communication with the distribution team but each time we called them, they will tell us to wait but after we have observed it has gone so long, we thought it wise to come out and have the people and the President informed about the form and manner WFP is handling the food distribution when it relates to [members of] the disability community," he added.

According to him when the process started, their group submitted names and they were given distribution forms by assessment team from the World Food Programme to fill and forms are still in their possession.

Kaiwood lamented it is very sorrowful and disgraceful for the government to distribute food items meant for underprivileged and vulnerable Liberians and leave out 69 family heads.

"Mostly especially in Liberia people don't take our issue very serious in this country, for each time we come out to exercise our constitutional rights, they always tell us you can't feel sorry for yourselves and if you look at what the Ministry said that the food is for vulnerable people and as you must be aware, visually-impaired components are the most vulnerable people in the underprivileged community."

While the protest was ongoing on the grounds of the Foreign Ministry, Deputy Minister of State Anthony Kpawankpa asked the group leaders to select three of its members for an indoor meeting that lasted for an hour.

Upon the completion of the meeting, Kaiwood informed his colleagues that the Minister is in solidarity with them and has asked them to formally write the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill for redress within a week.

Kaiwood further lamented that they are willing to adhere to the discussion with the Deputy Minister but if their communication were not fruitful, they will reassemble at the Foreign Ministry until their demand is met by the government.

A female blind protester, who identified herself as Martha, said they are being poorly treated by the government that supposed to champion the cause by ensuring their livelihood is improved.

"We are been left out by the government as a means of encouraging us to continue begging in the street, this is the highest insult we have received in recent time. We will continue with our civil engagement until we can get redress but if government or WFP refuses to supply us with our food, we will continue to sleep here till the President addresses our dissatisfaction," Ma Martha angrily noted.

The New Dawn has not established whether the Covid-19 stimulus food distribution has formally ended, but the exercise has been marred by series of controversies, delays and criticisms from its onset.

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