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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid