Liberia: Widows of Fallen Soldiers Protest for Months Pension Arrears
Monrovia – Aggrieved widows of fallen soldiers stormed both the Barclay Training Center (BTC) and the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday demanding the pension benefits of their husbands who are ex-soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
This is not the first time the women have protested for their husbands’ benefit. During the regime of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the women many on many occasions took to the streets demanding their husbands’ pension benefit.
FrontPageAfrica could reach the Assistant Minister for Public Affairs Sam Collins to respond to the women’s allegations as his phone rang endlessly.
The aggrieved women told FrontPageAfrica that they have gone three months without getting their pension benefits from the government of Liberia.
According to some of the women, some of their husbands are not dead but are sick and unable to commute to come for their pension benefits.
According to the women, they were forced at the beginning of this year (2021) to spent US$10 to fix a document that will enable them to receive the pension benefit for their husbands.
The aggrieved women said they gathered at the early morning hour at the BTC Barrack to wait for the payment of pension benefit but were denied by staffs of the Ministry of Finance who were sent to the BTC barrack to distribute the pension benefit to the widows.
At the BTC, the women waited in a long queue for staffs from the Ministry of Finance to pay their husbands’ pension benefit but unfortunate of them, the staffs of the Ministry Finance were unable to address their demands.
At the early afternoon hour, the women being annoyed marched from the BTC Barrack to the Ministry of Finance and for hours, blocked the main entrance of the Ministry including the Broad Street, the road passing in front of the Ministry of Finance.
Angeline Deshield, a mother of six told FrontPageAfrica that they were told to come and collect their husbands’ benefit three different times at the BTC Barrack and were denied from getting such a benefit.
“They told us to come and stand in a long line and we did but the soldier people were making fun out of us. So, that is why we decided to come to the Ministry of Finance because it is the people from the Ministry of Finance that can pay us,” Madam Deshields said.
“Some of us got our husbands who have worked with the government for years and they are sick and we got documents and the government does not want to pay us,” she said.
Madam Deshields added: “I’m supposed to be receiving L$7300 every month. They owe us for three months. It is not so much of the money, but the way the government is behaving. We’ve got children and we need this pension money to feed our children.”
Another woman, Kortu Freeman’s husband is ill and does not have the strength to come and collect his pension benefit. She alleged that staff from the Ministry of Finance are in the habit of taking their husbands’ names from the pension benefit payroll.
She said, “So, if they do not want our husbands to be on the pension, let them give our husbands’ benefits and then we will sit down. Let them say, my people since your husbands are old now y’all hold this small thing and go sit down. Then we will sit down but until then, we know that we are still entitled to our husbands’ pension benefits.”
Ma Comfort Harris is a widow and a resident of Mount Barclay. She says her two children have been put out of school because of lack of money.
According to her, she has come three times to get her husband’s pension benefit but to no avail.
“We did not vote for George Weah for us to suffer, we who voted for George Weah, we are not eating anything. They who did not vote, they’re the ones that are now enjoying,” Ma Comfort said.
She added: “George Weah must be mindful. They want to spoil his government. They do not want him to go in the chair for the second time.”