News / Africa

    Liberia’s Ebola Quarantine Affecting Livelihoods

    Members of Liberian security forces talk with a protester in the West Point neighbourhood in Monrovia Aug. 20, 2014.
    Members of Liberian security forces talk with a protester in the West Point neighbourhood in Monrovia Aug. 20, 2014.
    James Butty

    Some residents of Liberia’s West Point say Ebola-related restrictions are becoming unbearable. And they say if the situation continues for another week, the already angry residents could become even angrier.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) says nearly 2,500 people have been infected by the Ebola virus in four West African countries, with more than 1,350 people dead.

    The WHO says 90 percent of new Ebola deaths have occurred in Liberia.

    President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Wednesday announced the quarantine of West Point, a densely populated borough of the capital, to control the spread of the virus.

    Resident Jatu Harris, a fish marketer, said the restrictions are affecting the community’s way of life as marketers are unable to sell products.

    “We are not selling in peace and we are not even getting back the money we spent to purchase our goods. We cannot go outside; nobody is coming in; we’re just here... If you want to go out of the community to visit your family, the security will say if you leave you will not be allowed to come back,” Harris said.

    She said the government on Thursday delivered rice for the first time since the quarantine began, but it was not enough for the community.

    In addition, she said the rice was “rotten”, and that only the strong were able to get their ration.

    “They said they brought 300 bags of rice for us today. But we have six zones in West Point and the food cannot serve everybody.  And if you are not strong, you will not be able to get in line to get your ration. So most didn’t get [any], and the rice was very rotten,” Harris said.

    Archie Ponpon is a member of Respect Incorporated, a local NGO headquartered in West Point. He told VOA the quarantine violates the residents’ constitutional right of freedom of movement.

    “The Ebola situation is disturbing. The rights of people are being violated in terms of their movement. The army is entering into people’s homes forcing them to go indoors before the start of the curfew.  There is nowhere for people to sell,” he said.

    Ponpon also said there is a shortage of drugs and medical services since everyone in the community has been quarantined.

    Liberia’s Defense Minister Brownie Samukai told VOA this week the government has no intention to increase the hardship of the people. He said the quarantine and curfew are intended to minimize human-to-human contact, thereby breaking the chain of transmission of the Ebola virus.

    “The key issue is that there is a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in a very congested community.  We have to find the way to cut the spread of the virus.  And, the way to cut the spread of the virus is to make sure that we identify those who have the sickness and, at the same [time], identify those who need assistance,” Samukai said.

    Harris said the government did not prepare the community in advance for the possible impact of the quarantine and other Ebola-related measures.

    “They never did it the right way because by 1:00 Tuesday they closed down the community without telling us anything,” she said.

    Meanwhile, a tense calm was reported Thursday in West Point, a day after riot police clashed with residents who tried to break the quarantine placed on the area.

    The residents was sparked by the government’s decision to remove their commissioner from the area.  After all, they said, she as a resident of West Point was also affected by the quarantine.

    • A man working for a humanitarian group throws small bags of water to the residents behind the fence as they wait for a second consignment of food from the Liberian Government, at the West Point area, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 22, 2014.
    • West Point residents stand behind a green string marking a holding area, as they wait for a second consignment of food from the Liberian Government, at the West Point area, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 22, 2014.
    • Liberian policemen (right) speak with residents of the West Point area to calm them down as they wait for a second consignment of food from the Liberian Government, at the West Point area, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 22, 2014.
    • Kevin Brantly, the American doctor who, along with a second American aid worker, contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia, has recovered and was discharged from Emory University Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 21, 2014.
    • Kevin Brantly, who contracted the deadly virus Ebola, looks at his wife Amber during a press conference at Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 21, 2014.
    • Kevin Brantly (left), who contracted the deadly Ebola virus, looks down as his wife Amber (center) hugs a member of Emory's medical staff during a press conference at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 21, 2014.
    • Kevin Brantly, who contracted the deadly Ebola virus, hugs a member of Emory's medical staff during a press conference at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 21, 2014.
    • Kevin Brantly (left), who contracted the deadly Ebola virus, thanks Bruce Ribner, medical director of Emory's Infectious Disease Unit during a press conference at Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 21, 2014.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Gerry from: Australia
    August 23, 2014 3:14 AM
    Yes this disease is badly affecting Sierra Leone as well, without international food drops, these regions may soon face famine, no is allowed to move, any one with any basic symptoms is shunned, people are too afraid to go to doctors on rumors that doctors may be killing those with symptoms a complete nightmare scenario, from what I heard, we have a contact Fr Themi in Freetown and the greek community of australia has sent gloves and masks to help, but now he is saying they are facing famine as food networks are being cutoff, big Problems.

    by: jude from: nigeria
    August 22, 2014 9:15 AM
    i have never seen a diseas that has eaten deep into west africa as much as ebola. Please let the international community help. This will be the best and only solution.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora