News / Africa

VP Urges Diaspora Liberians to Help Educate Relatives about Ebola

Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai
Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai
James Butty

Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai is appealing to Liberians in the United States and elsewhere in the diaspora to assist the government in educating Liberians about the dangers of Ebola by calling relatives and family members and asking them to cooperate with service providers.

Boakai told VOA that in the initial stages of the outbreak the government had a difficult time getting citizens to realize the seriousness of the disease.

“One of the difficulties we’ve been running into is that of ignorance and people denying. A phone call home to just say look this is serious, to say cooperate with the medical team. Know that Ebola is real and it’s deadly would be a big help,” Boakai said.

His comments came as Liberia declared a state of emergency Wednesday after President Ellen Johnson said Ebola presented a present danger to the survival of the Liberian state.


Also on Thursday, the U.S. State Department ordered the departure of non-essential family members from Liberia and warned citizens from non-essential travel to Liberia.

Boakai said he believes the state of emergency would help the government effectively control the spread of the Ebola virus.

“Ebola effects have reached a level that it has become a threat to our livelihood and to our economic activities. And so the President thought it wise to impose the state of emergency,” he said.

Boakai said his government will leave it to medical practitioners to determine whether the new experimental drug ZMapp being used to treat two Americans who contracted the Ebola virus in Liberia should be tried in Liberia.

But he said if it is successful in treating the two Americans, perhaps the Liberian ministry of health could approve its use in Liberia.

The Vice President Wednesday held a town hall meeting with Liberians in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

He praised Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States, Jeremiah Sulunteh, for putting in place a process for Liberians in the United States and friends of Liberia to give either financial support or provide items useful in the fight against Ebola.

The Vice President led Liberia’s delegation to the just concluded US-Africa Summit while President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf remained at home to oversee efforts to control the deadly Ebola viral disease.

Bokai says Liberia welcomes President Barack Obama’s announcement of new US investments to Africa, particularly the Power Africa initiative that would expand electricity access to at least 20 million new households and commercial entities.

He said the initiative will benefit Liberia greatly, as the country continues to suffer frequent power shortages due to the destruction of its infrastructure from 14 years of civil war.

Vice President Boakai said Liberia, as a traditional friend of the United States would like to see more US investments

He said Liberia remains firmly committed to break with the corruption of the past and has put in place strong measures to attract foreign investment, including good governance and accountability.

Responding to critics who say corruption has gotten worse in Liberia during President Sirleaf’s two terms in office, Boakai pointed out that corruption existed in Liberia before President Sirleaf took over.

But he added that Liberians are becoming more aware because the Sirleaf administration has drawn a “sword against corruption” by putting in place a monitoring system and taking action against officials found to be engaged in corrupt practices. 

Recently, the US visas of three Liberian government officials, including an associate justice of the Liberian Supreme Court, were canceled by the United States.

The US Embassy in Liberia said in a statement that it was aware the visas had been canceled, but went on to say it could not comment on individual visa cases.

Vice President Boakai hoped the matter would be resolved soon. He dismissed speculation in local media that the visa cancelations were part of an effort by the U.S. to go after certain Liberian government officials for human rights abuses and war crimes they might have committed during Liberia’s civil war.

Asked what he believes should be the legacy of the Sirleaf government after two terms in office, Boakai said Liberians should judge for themselves, but added that the country today is better off. He said Liberians have never enjoyed the type of freedoms they enjoy today.

“Everyone in Liberia who wants to know the truth will know that they have never, never enjoyed the freedom that they are enjoying now. Peace has prevailed for more than 10 year in Liberia. We have built very critical infrastructure, and what you see in Liberia is not what used to be there,” he said.

He said the Sirleaf government has decentralized development and is bringing electricity from Cote d’Ivoire under the West African Power Pole.

Boakai would not say whether or not he would run for president after his second term as vice president ends in 2016.

“We’re still far away. I always believe that the job you have at hand, do it very well. I’m a Christian, and the Bible says, if you’re faithful in that which is least, you might be faithful in that which is much. I’m not worrying about the future. The present will create the future,” he said.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs