News / Europe

In France, Worried Africans Raise Funds and Call Home

Ebola virus viewed through an electron microscope. The World Health Organization on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Ebola virus viewed through an electron microscope. The World Health Organization on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Lisa Bryant

With the World Health Organization now calling the Ebola outbreak an international emergency and new cases moving across borders, the virus is no longer seen as restricted to a small part of the African continent.

That message is resonating strongly in France, a major hub for West African air traffic and home to a sizeable African diaspora.

For reggae singer and political dissident Alpha Wess, who fled the dictatorship in his native Guinea a decade ago, once-distant threats are beginning to feel imminent as the Ebola virus begins ravaging his homeland.

"My brothers, sisters and parents live in the capital, Conakry, [but I] can't go home because [I'm] a political refugee," he said.

Wess isn't the only worried expatriate. At places like Le Fouta Djalon, a Guinean restaurant in central Paris, he and fellow countrymen trade greetings — and news about the virus.


But the restaurant's owner, Oumou Barry, who was visiting family in the northern Guinean town of Mamou, says Ebola won't stop her visits home.

"I told everyone to keep their hands and their homes clean — and to keep their kids off the streets," she said.

So far, Ebola cases haven't cropped up in France, but the virus has now spread to Nigeria and possibly other countries as well, while Spain and the United States have repatriated infected citizens.

Still, Dr. Francois Bricaire, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris, says the risk of a major outbreak in France remains low.

"There's always a chance of a few cases, because Ebola's incubation period can last up to three weeks," he said. "But even if a case is diagnosed, measures will be taken immediately to stop transmission."

France is taking no chances. Air France flights from West Africa now screen passengers before departure and French airport personnel are advised watch out for suspect cases.

A number of French hospitals have special isolation rooms for sick patients.  

But many Africans here are anxious about the spread of the virus back home — including 65-year-old Senegalese Amara Sheaur, whose country, so far, Ebola has spared.

"I call home frequently to check up on family [in Dakar]," he said, adding that even though he considers Ebola very dangerous, he still plans to visit them in December.

In the suburb of Montreuil, known as "little Bamako" because of its large Malian population, community leader Lassana Niakate says many fellow Malians fear another hardship for their conflict-scarred country.

"Mali borders Guinea and ... Malians and Guineans cross that frontier every day," he said, explaining that the risk of Ebola crossing that border is the source of his worry.

For its part, the Guinean diaspora has organized awareness and fund raising campaigns to send medical supplies to health workers back home.

Wess, the reggae singer, has even given benefit concerts.  

"The Guinean community is very close in France," he said. "A crisis like Ebola binds it even closer."

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs