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Sierra Leone Health Workers Sue Government Over Ebola Response


FILE - Health workers carry the body of a suspected Ebola victim for burial at a cemetery in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec. 21, 2014.

Two Sierra Leone health workers who survived Ebola are suing their government for allegedly mismanaging funds during the epidemic.

The Ebola survivors blame a lack of resources provided by the government for their infection and for the deaths of many of their co-workers. Their suit claims the government's mismanagement of funds violated the plaintiffs' "right to life and health."

The virus surfaced in Guinea in 2013 and spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone the following year. More than 3,000 people died in Sierra Leone and more than 11,300 died worldwide, mostly in those three West African countries.

Foreign governments and aid organizations donated millions of dollars to help the West African countries stop the spread of the epidemic, but allegations have arisen in all three nations that the governments misused the funds.

The Sierra Leone health workers are suing their government in the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court in Abuja, Nigeria. The court's rulings are legally binding, but some past decisions have, in practice, been ignored by member states.

Sierra Leone's Center for Accountability and Rule of Law helped bring the case to court.

"Sierra Leoneans have repeatedly demanded accountability and justice for the mismanagement of Ebola response funds, but their demands have fallen on deaf ears," group representative Ibrahim Tommy said.

The plaintiffs are seeking financial compensation, an acknowledgement that their rights were violated, and the formation of a national commission to investigate civil and criminal liability from the alleged misuse of funds.

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