The Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS) has declined to accept Gambia’s COVID-19 allowances that was offered to frontline health workers, including the GRCS 300 volunteers by the Ministry of Health saying that “such a payment will have some negative implications on the GRCS system as GRCS is usually engage in volunteers based on the Red Cross Volunteering policy, Code of conduct and standards, and we don’t want to set any precedent that jeopardize our values and principles.” The GRCS’s rejection of the COVID-19 frontline allowance was contained in a letter Alasan Senghore, the President of the GRCS had addressed to Amadou Lamin Samateh, Gambia’s Health Minister. The letter dated April 17th was also copied to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, and the PS for Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs.
It would be recalled that Health Minister Amadou Lamin Samateh has claimed during an appearance before the National Assembly on Saturday that a bogus list of 300 COVID-19 volunteers was submitted to him for consideration for allowance payment, but he rejected that list.
Now, a new information has emerged stating that The Gambia Red Cross Society volunteers had never requested to be paid any COVID-19 allowances. The GRCS had unequivocally made it clear to Samateh prior to his National Assembly appearance that it was not interested in COVID-19 allowance payments.This was evident in a letter SG Senghore recently sent to Dr. Samateh.
“GRCS has been working on community sensitization since the outbreak of COVID-19 (house to house, schools, caravan, screening at border entry points, Safe and Dignified Burial, transfer of cases, product of communication materials etc) during the past three months. GRCS have deployed over 300 volunteers and staff across the country, providing the actions mentioned above,” Mr. Senghore wrote.
“Hon. Minister, GRCS is aware that the MOH is planning to support maintenance of the personnel and this includes The Gambia Red Cross Volunteers and staff deployed on COVID-19 response. We believe that such a payment will have some negative implications on the GRCS system as GRCS is usually engage in volunteers based on the Red Cross Volunteering policy, Code of conduct and standards, and we don’t want to set any precedent that jeopardise our values and principles,” Senghore added.
Samateh’s corruption announcement was not only mischievous, but misleading. He had deliberately misrepresented the true story behind the COVID-19 allowance issue. The 300 volunteers figure he quoted couldn’t be substantiated. He knew very well that in April of 17th, this year, GRCS SG Alasan Senghore wrote to him rejecting the proposed allowance payment.
“Therefore, we will appreciate if your Ministry can kindly withdraw the list of the names of the Red Cross personnel and the MOH can contribute to the overall support to the GRCS for action. The GRCS will then send the justification of the expenses from those funds to the Ministry or any other authorized institution. We thank you for your understanding and cooperation,” Mr. Senghore posited.
Below is Alasan Senghore’s letter that was addressed to Health Minister Amadou Lamin Samateh.