Via the Daily Observer: Liberia Anguished over Isolation by African Neighbors. Excerpt:
The Government of Liberia is not taking lightly what it sees as the ostracizing of the three nations affected by the Ebola virus -- Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Addressing foreign newsmen over the weekend, Liberia’s Foreign Minister, Augustine K. Ngafuan, recalled a time “when certain African nations were ravaged by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.” Liberia, he said, did not shut its doors for fear of contagion.
The Foreign Minister could only have been referring to one nation -- South Africa -- the latest African nation to close its borders to passengers traveling from the Mano River Union.
Ngafuan also reminded newsmen that the Ebola virus used to be known as an East African disease before it suddenly surfaced in the West African rainforest.
“As we speak,” he pointed out, “it has gone right back to Zaire. Who knows where it will go next?”
Ngafuan said while it is understandable that countries not affected by the Ebola outbreak may take measures to protect their citizens, they should heed the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations which do not support travel or trade restrictions on Liberia and other countries hit by the Ebola virus.
The WHO has been emphatic in its warning against the imposition of air and sea restrictions: “If you try to shut down air travel and sea travel, you risk affecting to a huge extent the economy, people’s livelihoods and their ability to get around without stopping the virus from traveling. You can’t ship goods in. Sometimes these goods are basic staples people need to survive — food and fuel,” said WHO spokesman Gregory Härtl.
The WHO further emphasized that official border closures would constrain resources to address the epidemic and would not stop all means of travel outside of affected areas.
“In these difficult moments in our countries,” Ngafuan asserted, “we expect our African brothers and sisters across the globe to take actions that will complement measures already undertaken by the affected countries with a view to speedily eradicating the disease. Actions grounded primarily in paranoia may, instead of aiding affected countries, lead to blanket stigmatization of citizens from these countries and may make it doubly difficult for affected countries to effectively combat the Ebola disease.”