Is the Ebola lockdown succeeding?

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 September 2014

Ebola lockdown2Latest reports from Freetown on the progress of the three day military style lockdown in Sierra Leone, are expressing mixed feelings about its benefits and achievements, after just two days. (Photo: Suspected Ebola victim found on first day of lockdown).

Although there are no reports of serious and widespread rights violations, as previously feared, several communities across the country however, are complaining of people running short of food supplies, no access to water, and a worsening electricity crisis.

Those responsible for carrying out door to door surveillance, monitoring and sensitisation are said to be coping well, after yesterday’s serious setback in making available the necessary logistics and material supplies, before they could go out.

There are serious complaints over the lack of temperature testing kits for use during the door to door campaign, to check for suspected Ebola cases.

Speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, an official said: “The distribution of logistics to the teams at the DHMT Cline Town is not properly organised. They are only being given their logistics now when that should have been done yesterday, and this is slowing the campaign.”

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President Koroma will not be attending UN General Assembly

Dennis Kabatto

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 September 2014

President Koroma 2014Sierra Leone’s President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, will not be attending the Sixty-Ninth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, which takes place next week in New York.

Due to the Ebola crisis, the president will once again be absent from a vital world summit.

According to the latest report of the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) published on September 18, 2014, Sierra Leone now has a total of 1673 recorded Ebola cases, 1513 laboratory confirmed cases and 562 deaths.

In a statement received from the National Publicity & Outreach Coordinator at State House, Government Spokesperson – Abdulai Bayraytay, said yesterday: “The honorable minister of information and communications – Alpha Kanu has just informed that, it is highly likely that president Koroma may not attend this year’s UN general assembly; and that travel restrictions for ministers will continue to be in place. He will give executive clearance to those attending instead. He will continue to appeal for a more robust support in the fight against the ebola through the UN and other multilateral humanitarian agencies.”

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Mano River Union facing a complex Ebola emergency

Kandeh K. Yumkella – United Nations Under-Secretary-General

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 September 2014

Dr  Kandeh Kumkella -AAI 2013What started few weeks ago as an isolated incident in the forest region of Guinea has now metastasized into a “complex emergency”.

Though in the UN we typically reserve this term for countries or regions with major conflicts and wars, others in the humanitarian assistance community use it more broadly to describe situations where “the need for large-scale, multi-faceted humanitarian assistance is required” to end human misery.

Most experts now believe that the Mano River Union (MRU) requires a massive global intervention to fight Ebola.

Peter Piot, my former colleague on the UN-Chief Executives Board, now a Professor and Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said in the Guardian this week that “the outbreak was now so bad that a UN peacekeeping force ought to be mobilized in Sierra Leone and Liberia with huge donations of beds, ambulances and trucks as well as an army of clinicians, doctors and nurses”.

Peter knows what he is talking about. Forty years ago, he discovered the virus in the Congo and successfully led UNAIDS as chief executive for many years. He and I will discuss these and other issues in London at a panel discussion organized by the Royal African Society in October.

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First Lady’s office clarifies Ebola statement

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 September 2014

Sia-KoromaA spokesman for the First Lady’s office in Freetown,  today told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that the First Lady – Mrs. Sia Koroma, would like to clarify any misunderstanding construed from her pre-lockdown Ebola video recorded message, published in the Sierra Leone Telegraph.

In response to the article, titled; ‘Ebola is God’s punishment for the sins of the people’, the spokesman said that:

“The First Lady wishes to inform readers that it was never the intention of the First Lady to denigrate the suffering people of Sierra Leone; nor did she intend to suggest or imply that ‘Ebola is God’s punishment for the sins of the people.’

“The First Lady is currently involved in leading the campaign for the caring of women in Sierra Leone, who have fully recovered from the Ebola disease, but are now facing serious social isolation and stigma, as well as psychological trauma.

“She wishes all the people of Sierra Leone well and appeals to everyone to work together in the fight against the Ebola virus.”

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The seething of our two ‘leprosy arms’

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 September 2014

ParliamentariansGive credit where credit is due – the decibel breaking legislators and members of the executive arm of government bellowing their innocence and showing their displeasure at what they perceive as the media’s intransigence in a democratic setting, are displaying exactly why they are a bunch of spineless leaders who care about their image more, than the national interest.

Amidst a series of debilitating national crises, the staccato action of government in the Ebola fight is not a subject of discussion or parliamentary analysis; neither is the lack of social progression or the inability and unwillingness of government to safeguard its population.

To them, the perceived intransigence of the press ranks higher in the scheme of things.

Oh! So they want to shut the press up. Oh! so some of them know which law to use in our statute books to hammer the fourth estate of the realm. Yet none of them know what law to use to summon the President, when he shirks his responsibilities or to demand that the government investigate or take actions on some pressing national issues.

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Ebola lockdown – too many unanswered questions

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 September 2014

ebola lockdown - shoppingAll six million people in the West African state of Sierra Leone are tonight ordered by command of president Koroma to remain behind closed doors, for three long nights and days, after six months of agony, fear and uncertainty over a deadly Ebola virus that has taken the lives of over 500 people.

The streets of the capital Freetown was thronged with shoppers, trying to pick up last minute groceries and other essentials that will see them through the much dreaded military style lockdown.

But human rights groups are worried about the possibility of serious violations in the coming days.

And despite calls for the draconian lockdown to be cancelled, the president has gone live on national radio and television to explain the reasons for the three day grounding of all citizens.

Whilst the economic costs of this action by the government will be easily calculated next week, what is not certain, are the physical and mental consequences of keeping six million people behind closed doors, for such a long period of time.

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