Liberia President Johnson Sirleaf Visits Global Communities Burial Site

With President Johnson Sirleaf’s Visit to Global Communities’ Safe Burial Site in Montserrado Country, Liberia, Safe Burials Can Now Begin

By Natalie Sarles, Global Communities

president at disco hill
Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is greeted at the Disco Hill Burial Site

On Tuesday, December 23, the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, visited the safe burial site at Disco Hill. With her visit and payment to the community, a shift from cremation to safe burials for Montserrado County, which includes the capital city, Monrovia, can begin.

Upon arrival at the site, the President was greeted by the Chief of Chiefs for Liberia, Zazan Karwor, who was part of the multi-national team that found and evaluated the site at Disco Hill. Members of the surrounding communities also greeted the President with traditional gifts.

After introductions, the president toured the cemetery, walking through both the dedicated Muslim burial area and Christian grave site. While talking with the National Ebola Incident Management System Chairman, Assistant Minister Tolbert Nyenswah, and representatives of Global Communities, the President was also able to see where visitors to the site will be able to take shelter during ceremonies. 

The Government of Liberia was also represented by the Minister of Internal Affairs and the Minister of Finance. After the tour, the President spoke with the local community leaders, listened to their concerns and thanked them for being part of the fight against Ebola in Liberia.  The President then personally presented the community with the check for the first payment for the land.

us ambassador at disco hill
Josh Balser of Global Communities and U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac at Disco Hill Burial Site

A spokesperson for the community, who accepted the check on their behalf, said that the community, the President and the country, were all in the fight against Ebola together. Minister Nyenswah, who has been an integral part of the safe burial site from the beginning, expressed his excitement that the cemetery could finally move forward with activities.  The United States Ambassador to Liberia also visited the site on Tuesday to show her support for safe burial activities. 

Since the start of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, communities in Montserrado, the only county without a safe burial option, have continuously expressed their discontent with cremation as the only available option for the safe removal of bodies. To provide a safe and acceptable alternative to cremation while EVD still exists in Liberia, Global Communities, in close coordination with the Government of Liberia, the Traditional Council and other dead body management actors in the county, identified a suitable spot that could accommodate the caseload at a time when more than 40 deceased were being cremated each day.

Construction on the 25 acre site on Disco Hill began in November and Global Communities, through the traditional chiefs and local leaders engaged the surrounding communities throughout the process. It is expected that the Government of Liberia will announce an official switch from cremation to burial for all of Montserrado in the coming days.