Stigmatised: The Ebola heroes no one will hire

Liberian Christian women, known locally as "prayer warriors", celebrated after the WHO declared the country Ebola-free. However, many Ebola workers face unemployment because of stigma.Reuters

Liberians who helped beat the country's devastation Ebola outbreak are unable to find work because of a lingering stigma, according to the IRIN news service.

Many of the 20,000 people who helped trace victims of the disease, served as health workers and worked in burial teams are unemployed because no one will hire them.

Some estimates say that as many as 70 per cent of former Ebola response workers cannot find work.

Around 5,000 people died in Liberia during the outbreak, which saw more than 10,000 recorded cases of the disease. Health workers faced a particularly grave risk of contracting it as they treated patients. Burial parties could be infected if they did not take stringent precautions as they handled bodies.

One man, 44-year-old Morris Walker, who worked as a contact tracer, told IRIN: "People are still afraid of us. They don't want to employ us because they feel we have some sort of disease and could infect them. But this is far from the fact."

Walker worked as a waiter before the outbreak but his manager told him he could not return.

"The manager bluntly told me that my services were not needed because he heard that I was working with the burial teams," Walker said. "The manager said that if he takes me back, most of his customers might not come back to the restaurant."

Another worker, single mother-of-three Theresa Smith, was a primary school teacher in Margibi before the outbreak. She helped collect blood samples but when the schools reopened she was told there was "no longer space" for her.

"I don't know how they found out how I used to work with the Ebola team," she told IRIN. "But when I went for my reply at the school, someone confided in me that I was denied the job because I worked for an Ebola team."

Former taxi driver James Kollie, 33, wants the government to help former Ebola workers and convince people they are not a risk.

"Every day we go from place to place looking for a job, but no luck. This is terrible," he told IRIN."At the very least the government could help us find a job after the sacrifice we made for this country."

While some government and charity initiatives are in place, many business owners admit that they are not willing to recruit former Ebola workers.

While Liberia has suffered no new cases, Ebola is making a comeback in Guinea and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organisation has said. Last week there were 31 new cases reported.

"The outbreak is not over and the response efforts must be sustained until we get to zero cases throughout the region and are able to stay at zero for several months," the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response said on Thursday.