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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More