Grief etched in stone

Sierra Leone finally lays Ebola to rest

The Guardian, 18th April 2017.

Cemeteries played a key role in the the fight to contain the Ebola outbreak that began in Sierra Leone in 2014. The traditional burial practice of washing bodies by hand was banned in order to prevent the disease spreading, and families were unable to witness the interment of loved ones. Finally, though, they are able to visit the country’s Ebola cemeteries and seek closure.

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Concern Worldwide teamed up with the Glasnevin Trust in 2014 to aid in the burial of up to 87 people every day who have died from Ebola in Sierra Leone.

The charity says 70pc of transmissions of the deadly disease, which has already claimed more than 5,000 lives, is through inferior dead body management. Concern's international programme director, Anne O'Mahony, said burial was a "major problem" in the affected west African countries, with some families digging up bodies while others do not get to carry out proper burial services due to quarantining.

"People felt their loved ones were not being buried with dignity. These men in suits were coming and rounding them up in the back of pick-up vehicles and packing them away. They were never quite sure where they were going or if they would ever find their remains," she said.

Glasnevin Trust advised Concern in laying out grave sites as well as managing burial records.

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