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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid