Sierra Leone Defence Ministry debunks allegations
The Director of Public Affairs in the Ministry of Defense [MOD] Colonel Michael M. Samura, has told Journalists in Freetown during the usual weekly press briefing in the conference hall of the Ministry of Information and Communications that their purpose of being present in the forum is not different from their effort to throw light on issues that were purportedly raised by a caller from Somalia who claimed to be a member of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) troop to AMISOM regarding their welfare on the ground.
Colonel Samura outlined some of the issues that were raised including the non-payment of $100 as monthly stipend whose payment was to be made in Kenya Shillings and not in Dollars, the non-availability of local food stuffs, the deduction of $200 from the salaries of Soldiers, and the issue of bribery before a Soldier is selected to be part of the mission among others.
Describing the allegations as false, baseless and groundless, he intimated that the United Nations [UN] or the Africa Union [AU] provides reimbursements to any government that contributes troops to the mission. He further stated that the reimbursement is made directly to the government and not to the Soldiers. He advanced that individual peacekeepers provide their mission sustenance on the ground and mentioned that it is the government that decides to provide a certain amount of money to make them happy on the base and but that this is not mandatory to government
He explained that the Government of Sierra Leone has decided to give $828 to each Soldier per month, out of which $100 is deducted and sent it to where the troop is deployed, while the remaining $728 is placed directly into the individual’s account which, he said, they will access when they return home.
He made it clear that peace keeping is not funded by the Government but by the agency that does the deployment of Soldiers. Colonel Samura stated that they have savings when they participated in Sudan and that it is out of that money that they paid the Soldiers six months advance.
He noted that if they did not have those savings from the UNAMID, it would have been very difficult for them to pay them. He said the Soldiers are in peace enforcement mission and not a peace keeping mission
On the area of payment in Kenya Shillings, he stated that there have been some initial payments in Dollars and not Kenya Shillings.
He also explained that it is neither the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense nor the Government of Sierra Leone to provide food for the Soldiers when they are on peace keeping mission but that they Soldiers are given allowances for their feeding.
He stated that if they provided them with local foodstuffs, it was not mandatory but only to make feel comfortable on the ground.
He said he was not aware that any Soldier had to give bribes in order to be sent on a mission but that they are selected by merit and by turns.
By Abdulai Mento Kamara
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