Population Services International (PSI) -Liberia has confirmed here that 200 sex-workers living with the HIV/AIDS disease have fled their treatment center located on 16th Street, Sinkor due to a recent attack on the facility by individuals believed to be drug addicts or “zogoes”.
The disclosure was made when PSI Country Representative Mr. Rajiv Dua addressed reporters on Sunday, 17 November at PSI head offices situated between 11th and 12th Streets, Sinkor, outside Monrovia.The presence of the HIV/AIDS infected sex-workers in the communities could be a potential danger to many innocent persons, as they risk increasing the spread of the sexually transmitted disease to others who might unknowingly come in sexual contact with the patients.
Recently, angry crowd besieged a compound in Sinkor where they claimed a gay wedding combining 20 couples was being held.The gathering was disrupted as stone throwing erupted at Allen’s Compound, the venue of the alleged gay wedding.
But PSI has denied claim that the event was a gay party. PSI Country Representative Mr. Dua says the attackers looted money, cell-phones, motorbike and other valuable items from guests and dignitaries attending the birthday party of an employee of the institution.
Same sex marriage is not legal in Liberia, but others are allegedly into gay and lesbian practices and campaigning for same sex to be legalized here at their own risk.
A vast majority of the population here which is mostly Christian and Muslim do not support same sex practices.Mr. Dua explains that as a result of the attack on the treatment facility, 200 sex-workers residing there have escaped the center for unknown destinations.
According to him, the action by the drug addicts resulted into the injury of several persons who were later rushed to local clinics where they were treated for wounds received at the hands of the zogoes.
The PSI boss discloses that the attack on the facility was launched when one drug addict who attempted entering the treatment center was prevented by security officers assigned at the center.According to him, the alleged drugs addict raised a false alarm that same-sex marriage was being held at the center.
But Mr. Dua terms the allegation as erroneous and criminal, and also a broad day robbery.
The PSI official continues that the attack on the center that provides treatment and counseling and other services to persons living with AIDS poses serious challenges to the institution, especially in terms of relocating the victims whose whereabouts are presently being searched.He indicates that PSI wants to ensure that the patients return to the facility to continue with their treatment.
Menwhile, PSI says it could relocate the treatment facility from its present location to another area to avoid stigmatizing the sex-workers who spend time at the center to get shelter, medical care and food assistance.At the same time, the Liberia National Police (LNP) confirms the arrest and investigation of about nine persons for their involvement in the attack and looting of the HIV/AIDS treatment facility.
Besides the provision of treatment to the sex-workers, the entity is also engaged in public awareness about the disease, sale of star condoms and water guide for several years now.
In a related development, it has been established that the drug addicts that attacked the treatment center did not come from 16th Street, Sinkor Community but rather from 17th and 18th Streets respectively.By Emmanuel Mondaye–Edited by Winston W. Parley