Minneapolis, Minnesota- The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) says it welcomes the Liberian government’s recently adopted Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) relief measures instituted for households in counties the government considers epic centers of the virus.
ALJA says the government’s decision to re-appropriate US 25 million dollars in Liberia’s 2019/2020 national budget as support to food distribution to households in counties affected by the virus for the period of 60 days, is plausible.
On April 14, 2020, President George Weah as part of his administration’s effort to combat the Corona Virus, which has now affected nearly a hundred persons and claimed several lives in Liberia, proposed a COVID-19 relief package. On April 17, 2020, the Liberia national legislature in a joint resolution adopted the President’s proposal with several changes including an extension of the state of emergency.
The Association in a press release issued on April 21, 2020, thanked the President and the legislature for the joint political action taken in bringing relief to thousands of Liberians during these challenging and difficult times as the nation and the world struggle with the Corona Virus pandemic, which has decimated economies of the world and claimed thousands of human lives.
ALJA also, thanked the Liberian government for resolving to underwrite the costs of the water and electricity bills of households; and to pay the loans of marketers in the Corona Virus affected counties during the period of the government’s declared state of emergency.
However, the Association says while it supports the government’s relief measures, it is critical that the Weah administration makes the provision of Personal Protective Equipment(PPEs), facemasks, medical gowns, hand gloves among others to hospitals and healthcare workers in the country as a top priority in the fight against the Corona Virus. The Association also, called on the government to make effort towards upgrading the standards of medical services and hospitals in Liberia.
The United States based Liberian journalists organization says without improved healthcare services, no amount of relief food, free water and electricity services and loan payments would curtail the spread of the Corona Virus in Liberia and its negative consequences on Liberians.
Meanwhile, ALJA is calling on the Weah administration to ensure that healthcare workers in the country are paid on time; and provided additional hazard incentives as they continue to sacrifice their lives and those of their families in the fight against the Corona Virus. According to media reports, health workers comprise 28 percent of the overall infection rate of those who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Association says government’s moral, logistical and financial support to hospitals and healthcare providers at this critical time are essential; and they can’t be overstated.
At the same time, ALJA says considering the extension of the state of emergency by the National legislature, it is imperative that the Liberian government pay civil servants’ salaries for at least two or three months as part of the emergency package. ALJA says the immediate payment of civil servants at this critical time would help mitigate the financial hardship the COVID-19 pandemic has caused them and their respective families.
The Association also, pleaded with the Liberian government to work with owners of private businesses, banks and international organizations to render assistance to their employees because the recently instituted state of emergency is profoundly affecting the nation’s entire workforce.
In a related development, the Association of Liberian Journalists in the America (ALJA) is condemning persistent reports of violence by some members of the Joint Security Forces against citizens in different parts of the country since the state of emergency went into effect.
The Association emphasized that what people need more during this crisis is awareness and education about the devastating effect of the virus and warned against excesses on the part of security officers enforcing the stay home order. The Association stressed that given the level of untold sufferings Liberians are going through as the result of the COVID-19, it is unfair for them to be subjected to violence by members of the Joint Security Forces.
ALJA is a conglomeration of retired and current Liberian journalists residing in the Americas. The Association was founded in 1998 in Washington, D.C. ALJA seeks to foster camaraderie, peace, and unity amongst its members and their American counterparts. The Association is also, dedicated to the advancement of good governance, free speech, and press freedom in Liberia.