By Tabora Bojang
The Gambia World War II Veterans and Family Association has said it is dismayed by the ‘misappropriation of sponsored funds’ provided by the British government in support of the country’s war veterans and their families.
In a statement shared with The Standard, the organisation which comprised over 200 members including widows, daughters, sons and grandchildren of World War II veterans, said the British government has been providing charitable support of about 1.8 million pounds to the war veterans’ families in 48 countries, but the earmarked beneficiaries in The Gambia have never benefitted nor knew the existence of such grants as they continue to languish in poverty and misery.
“The WW II veterans’ family association has discovered that those who are charged with running the affairs of the Gambia Legion and to manage the funds, have woefully failed in reaching out to the eligible beneficiaries as highlighted by the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League RCEL, i.e Veterans who served the British Crown prior to their country gaining independence or one surviving eligible widow after the veteran has deceased and who are living in poverty,” the statement said.
The Association alleged that these funds were being managed by the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League(RCEL) in partnership with the Gambia Legion with “very little transparency in the allocations and distribution of the fund.”
“The WW2 Veterans’ Family Association understands and sincerely appreciates who and what the grant is meant for. However, as siblings who lived and or still continue to live with and support the remaining veterans and their widows, we are calling on the RCEL and Gambia Legion to reach out and work closely with the association so that the funds can reach the eligible veterans and their widows.
“As we celebrate V-J Day it is important to highlight that the majority of veterans and widows in The Gambia, until their death never knew that any such grant existed and had never benefited from it. The remaining few who are still alive are languishing in poverty and misery.”
The Association called both the UK and Gambia governments to take urgent action to address this undesirable situation and regularise a decade long anomaly “so that our gallant soldiers and legends can be given the recognition and dignity they deserve.”