Islamic Religious Advisor to the Armed Forces, Imam Asim Hafiz, last month visited military hospital facilities set up in Sierra Leone for those who suffering and recovering from Ebola.
Imam Hafiz visited the country to look at the Armed Forces’ efforts in tackling the Ebola crisis. Ebola is rife in Sierra Leone where currently the death toll is 3,530. The Armed Forces are desperately trying to contain the disease before it spreads further across Africa.
The Armed Forces are working out there in facilitating treatment and educating locals in how to prevent the spread of disease. Imam Hafiz’s visit served to highlight the UK’s commitment to supporting Sierra Leone (both to the UK public and to Sierra Leoneans), raise awareness of the ongoing crisis in Sierra Leone and demonstrate how the Armed Forces are supporting this predominantly Muslim country in a non-conflict situation.
As well as meeting Regular and Reserve military personnel who are part of the UK effort to tackle Ebola, he met with local Imams and community leaders and spoke at events held to educate local people on the dangers of Ebola and ways to avoid spreading the virus.
“I went to Sierra Leone because I wanted to meet the British Armed Forces that are working to help the Sierra Leonean population fight Ebola. I wanted to do that because over the last ten or fifteen years we’ve been in very kinetic operations and that has created a certain perception of what the Armed Forces are about. And so to be able to go to Sierra Leone and observe the Armed Forces carry out a humanitarian operation was an amazing experience for me,” Imam Hafiz said.
As part of this trip the Imam visited villages that have taken preventative measures against Ebola and talking to local Imams to see how they are supporting the locality through this time. He also visited the National Ebola Response Centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Approximately seven hundred UK troops are currently in Sierra Leone and are working closely with other government departments, Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the Government of Sierra Leone. The epidemiology of the disease has shown an overall improvement in 2015 in all three affected countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. From February to March this year there have been on average around 60-80 confirmed cases per week in Sierra Leone, which is a significant decrease from a high of over 530 cases per week in November.
Imam Hafiz visited a previously quarantined area of Port Loko District called “Conteh Street” where he met with members of the local community and faith leaders including survivors and individuals who have lost family members to Ebola.