News / Africa

Cameroon Denies Diplomatic Row With Nigeria Over Ebola

  • The local market does business as usual despite fears of the Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia,  Aug. 19, 2014. 
  • Children surround a man suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 19, 2014. 
  • A health worker carries gloves at an Ebola treatment center, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 18, 2014. 
  • Liberian police are deployed at an Ebola treatment center to provide security, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 18, 2014. 
  • A woman reads a fact sheet for the Ebola virus during an awareness campaign in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 15, 2014. 
  • Liberian policemen dressed in riot gear disperse a crowd of people that blocked a main road after the body of someone suspected of dying from the Ebola virus was left in the street by health workers, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 14, 2014.
  • A poster displaying a government message against Ebola is displayed prominently at a maternity hospital, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Aug. 14, 2014.
Ebola Outbreak
Peter Clottey

Cameroon’s information minister says it is unlikely the country’s decision to close its border with neighboring Nigeria due to the ongoing Ebola crisis would undermine warm diplomatic relations between Yaoundé and Abuja.

Issa Tchiroma said Cameroon had no choice but to close the border, admitting that the decision could have an adverse impact on Cameroon’s economy, since the Central African nation enjoys significant trade with Nigeria, which is Africa’s biggest economy.

There have been 12 confirmed Ebola cases in Nigeria with at least four deaths.

The World Health Organization estimates that about 1,350 people have so far died of Ebola, with about 2,473 confirmed cases. The West African countries battling Ebola include Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Tchiroma said Cameroon closed its border with Nigeria in a bid to protect citizens from the deadly disease.

“The best way to address this issue given the fact that there is no medicine to curb this disease, the best way to address it is to close the border. But, this will not last forever,” said Tchiroma. “We it just because there is no other alternative, [and] we hope that  it will not last for more than two to three weeks.”        

Some Cameroonians have expressed concern that Yaoundé’s decision to close its border could signal a lack of trust in Nigeria’s effort to curb the disease, which they contend could sour relations between the neighboring countries.

Tchiroma disagreed, saying the decision to close the border was not ill-intentioned.

“Abuja cannot blame Cameroon for taking the necessary precaution to protect the health and the lives of our people. We have to place the lives and health of our people above everything else and that is why the government has to do it,” said Tchiroma.

Tchiroma outlined the importance of the “strong” trade relations with Nigeria after conceding that the decision could negatively have an impact on Cameroon’s economy.

“We have the full knowledge of the consequences and inconvenience that this measure will cause to Cameroon but, we have no choice,” said Tchiroma. “We didn’t do it to harm our relations with Nigeria we didn’t do it to jeopardize the diplomatic relations with Nigeria…I am convinced [that] Nigeria politicians and leaders will understand Cameroon’s [decision].”


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Comment Sorting
by: Victoria NGO from: Douala
August 21, 2014 5:36 AM
I guess Nigeria is isolated from the rest of the world. There is a bit of an exaggeration here. Lagos have a population of over 20 million and only about 10 people have died so far. So why are people outside Lagos so scared? There should be other ways of checking for this EBOLA virus on people moving across the boarders. Otherwise the boarders may remain closed forever.

by: alfredo ibarra barajas from: México
August 20, 2014 5:56 PM
We have a phrase in our country, "fear does not ride upon a donkey", because donkey is synonymous of slowness, and pardon me for using this kind of expression, on an otherwise very serious , grievous , and worrying situation in Africa. But what other alternatives you have in this case, except to try to isolate yourself as far away, and fast, from contact with so deadly a virus. So I think, Cameroon did what is correct in order to protect its citizens. I just hope that the Ebola virus will be able to be contained, so it won't spread farther, and that the people in Nigeria attend to the indications of the health workers, for their own good, and firstly, stay away from the corpses of the deceased from Ebola, which represent the highest level of contagion. And let us hope that laboratories come up fast with a vaccine. Those health workers working in Nigeria are real héroes.

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