This Christian Aid week, Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith has supported calls to write off the debts accrued by Sierra Leone in the aftermath of the Ebola crisis.
Nick Smith MP attended an event in Parliament, to show his support for Christian Aid Week (May 12-18,caweek.org) and to find out about activities and events taking place across the UK.
This year Christian Aid Week is encouraging the British public to stand together with mums in Sierra Leone.
Giving birth in Sierra Leone can be incredibly dangerous for women as their nearest health centre may be miles away and lack the right equipment and trained staff.
Coupled with this, Sierra Leone was the country most affected by Ebola – a serious and deadly disease, spread by a virus.
In 2014 more than 14,000 people contracted the disease in Sierra Leone, 3,955 died and around 10% of Sierra Leone’s health professionals died as a result of it.
After the 2014 Ebola outbreak, Sierra Leone was given loans to help cope with the outbreak leaving the country heavily in debt. As a result, Sierra Leone does not have the funds and resources needed to provide basic health services.
Today, a shocking 10% of mothers in Sierra Leone die in childbirth, and 10% of children will not live to see their fifth birthday.
Nick Smith said: “I was pleased to meet with Christian Aid this week, to hear about the great work that is being doneto help mothers and babies in Sierra Leone.
“I would encourage everyone to get involved in Christian Aid Week whenever they can. Last year people in Blaenau Gwent raised £8,531 during Christian Aid Week alone and I’m sure this year’s total will be just as impressive. It is heartening that local people are so generous and realise the gravity of the impact that Ebola can have on all of us if it were, heaven forbid, to have wider transmission.
“I am also going to be challenging the Chancellor to support Sierra Leone by helping ensure all loans to the country are written off to help the country recover after dealing with the scourge of Ebola.
“I hope to be joining Christian Aid supporters at the Big Breakfast event at Hebron Chapel this weekend.”
Alyson Tippings Chair of Tredegar Christians Together added: “Christian Aid Week is such an important time when chapels, churches and supporters get together to collect donations for those less fortunate than ourselves.
“In 2014 Sierra Leone suffered from an outbreak of the Ebola virus where nearly 4,000 lost their lives. To fight this virus the country had no option but to borrow money from the International Monetary Fund.
“Crippling repayments have left their healthcare in tatters especially in rural areas.
“This year we are raising funds to build health centres and provide midwives to support expectant mams and babies in Sierra Leone. It’s not all about the donations, we are also writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to cancel the debts on the loans Sierra Leone received for fighting the Ebola outbreak. The support we received from Nick Smith and other MPs means so much to us but even more to those who really need and appreciate our help.”
Daisy-Rose Srblin, Christian Aid’s Senior UK Advocacy Adviser said “For over 70 years, Christian Aid has been a champion for people’s rights, tackling injustice and advocating for global change to address the root causes of poverty. Last year well over 50,000 supporters and volunteers across the country helped raise almost £8m and this year through your support, Christian Aid will be able to do so much more.
“We are very grateful for Nick Smith’s support for Christian Aid’s work and to those across the country who have been able to take part in this year’s Christian Aid Week.”