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Fear and frustration as Guinea struggles to contain Ebola outbreak PDF Print E-mail
Diaspora News
Friday, 04 April 2014 08:31

Virus has claimed 84 lives and jumped borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia, raising concerns that it could sweep across region. Late last month, villagers in Guinea's remote south-eastern region of Nzérékoré were greeted by a sight so alarming that many barricaded themselves indoors. A group of doctors dressed in protective suits and helmets were visiting the centre of an Ebola epidemic that has raged for six weeks.

"People were running away from the doctors who looked like cosmonauts on their way back from the moon. We have never seen anything like it. Some locked their doors, others hid themselves. It was frightening because there were all kinds of rumours about how this disease was spreading," said Bah Mamadou, a taxi driver.

It took two more days before his neighbours began to open their doors. Such reactions highlight the uphill battle facing officials and medics as they attempt to contain one of the world's rarest and most lethal viruses, which has claimed 84 lives in the outbreak and jumped borders to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Mali.

International organisations fear it could sweep across a region with weak public health services. "Prevention is the only way to contain the Ebola spread and we are desperately trying to get the message across. Posters, leaflets, radio, text messages and TV spots – we are resorting to every possible method to reach communities far and wide," said Berenger Berehoudougou, west Africa director of the aid organisation Plan International.

Officials from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention travelled to Guinea this week to offer help, after a scare in Canada when a citizen returning from Liberia fell ill and was initially thought to have been infected.

There have been five suspected Ebola fatalities in Sierra Leone. In Liberia, where a state of emergency has closed the border with Guinea, the government said this week that the latest of its nine victims had no known links to Guinea. "We have a case in Tapeta where a hunter who has not had any contact with anyone coming from Guinea got sick," the chief medical officer, Bernice Dahn, told AFP. "He was rushed to the hospital and died 30 minutes later. He never had any interaction with someone suspected to be a carrier of the virus and he has never gone to Guinea. This an a isolated case."

Described by virologists as a "molecular shark", Ebola is passed on through bodily fluids and causes extensive internal and external bleeding. The fruit bat, a delicacy in Guinea and Liberia, is a host of the virus. The World Health Organisation believes that the virus spread from Guinea's forested regions to the densely populated capital, Conakry, through one man who travelled 200 miles from the central town of Dobala.

"Unfortunately, this one person infected both family members and healthcare workers when he went to Conakry for medical attention and died," said a WHO spokesman, Gregory Hartl. Six of the man's relatives and two other people exposed to him are being kept in isolation at a hospital.

Already struggling with a measles epidemic that has infected 1,500 people since November, Guinea's health system – which ranked last in a 2011 World Bank study of beds per capita – has struggled to cope with the outbreak. Although Guinea is the world's top exporter of bauxite, mineral riches have failed to translate into prosperity. The government – recovering from almost five decades of dictatorship – took more than a month to identify the epidemic, which appeared in early February. The Brazilian mining firm Vale has pulled its international staff from the country.

The latest infections have been passed on among family members or carers, said Sakouba Keita, a health ministry official. In one case, 10 people in one family died. "A lot of people are fleeing towns once they have any sign of a fever or headache. That's where we are psychologically today."

He said the government had a list of affected families and was placing them under 21 days' quarantine. "We also have to deal with a situation where people are using very crowded public transport from the interior to reach hospitals here. We're trying to make sure everybody hears the basic steps they can take to prevent the situation escalating," Keita said. Plan International said a co-ordinated multicountry emergency response was needed.

Last week the Senegalese music star Youssou N'Dour cancelled a concert in Conakry, fearing that a large crowd could spread the disease. Senegal's borders remain closed. Moussa Cissé, a rice trader in Senegal's southern town of Kédougou, said: "It has made things a bit difficult for us here because the weekly markets in [frontier towns] have completely shut down. People are just staying at home and trying to make ends meet."

Other countries have put in place preventive measures. Morocco has implemented strict travel controls, and Saudi Arabia has suspended visas for an estimated 10,000 Muslim pilgrims from Guinea and Liberia. Dauda Souaré, who organises Mecca pilgrimages from Conakry, said: "It's really a massive disappointment to be placed under this kind of collective measure."{jcomments on}

 

Editorial

2016 Global Peace Conference to be held in Freetown---as IPRA 50th Birthday confab ends in Istanbul

 

The 26th biennal conference of the Internatonal Peace Research Association (IPRA) is billed to take place in  Freetown, Sierra Leone in November 2016, marking the second time Africa has hosted the conference since the founding of IPRA in 1964. This was announced following the re-election of  the two IPRA Secretaries-general, Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (pictured) and Dr Nesrin Kenar, who co-ordinated the 25th  IPRA conference in Turkey,  at the organisation’s administrative meeting on August 14 during the 25th  IPRA  conference in Istanbul  to serve a second term of two years.

Read more...

Business News

Four illegal fishing cases found in Sierra Leone in four days

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, April 20, 2017/ -- Four illegal fishing cases have been found during a joint surveillance mission conducted by Greenpeace (www.Greenpeace.org/Africa/en) and Sierra Leone fishery authorities. Two Chinese vessels and one Korean vessel have been arrested for infringements of Sierra Leone fishing legislation, including possessing or using illegal fishing nets on board, no visible marking and a lack of required paperwork, including log books and authorisation for unloading catch. Fishing authorities ordered the vessels to return to Freetown port for further investigation. A fourth vessel, owned by an Italian company, was found with four kilograms of shark fins on board. Though not illegal under Sierra Leonean laws, this is a clear violation of European Union (EU) fishing rules. This boat’s case will be taken further with relevant EU authorities.

In addition, more than 70 bags of shark carcasses were found on one of the Chinese vessels.

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Media News

44 Journalists in Beijing for China Development Studies and Media Exchange

The 4th session of the China Africa Press Center (CAPC) Program hosted by the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) was officially launched on Wednesday 1st March 2017 in Beijing, China. This year’s event is running simultaneously with the China South Asia Center 2017 program. Both programs brought together forty-four journalists from Africa and South Asia.

The program you will give journalists the opportunity to cover major domestic and international events in China such as the upcoming Two Sessions, i.e, the 5th Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) and the 5th Session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese

People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) (similar to Parliamentary sessions in many countries) in March, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May and the 9th BRICS Summit in Autumn this year.

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Commentary

A NEW DAWN FOR JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN SIERRA LEONE, PARLIAMENT APPROVES MELRON NICOL-WILSON AS NEW OMBUDSMAN

The Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone has overwhelmingly approved the appointment of Mr Melron Nicol-Wilson as new Ombudsman, on Tuesday April 11, 2017. This follows him being named by H.E President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as the replacement to Justice Edmond Cowan - a long-standing legal icon, who now chairs the Sierra Leone Constitutional Review Committee.

A man whose action speaks louder than words, Mr Nicol-Wilson has been appointed as new Ombudsman for Sierra Leone, a position reserved for high-profile people, who are well-respected and with unblemished character. Mr Nicol-Wilson has the typical pedigree of an Ombudsman, best known both in Sierra Leone and internationally as a champion for justice and human rights.  

The Parliament’s decision to approve Mr Nicol-Wilson was anticipated, as the high-profile human rights lawyer emerged unscathed from an exchange of views with Members of Parliament.

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View Point

ELECTION IS A TESTIMONY TO PEOPLE’S SOVEREIGNTY

(The thoughts expressed in this article are purely and entirely the thoughts of the author)

Election in any democratic setting, include the enjoyment of those rights that will elicit the full participation of individuals in determining the political life of his/her country. An election is a decision making process through which eligible citizens(those who have reached the age of majority, 18 years and above and with sound mind) freely choose their leaders through the ballot box to hold public offices for a specified term.

Generally, people vote with the expectation that the office holders would represent their communitiesand or countries best interest.  Elections are viewed as a central feature of the rule of law, human rights, and democracy. Essentially, election is a testimony to peoples’ sovereignty and that ought to be respected and the process must be credible, otherwise there will be challenge with regards the acceptance of the result.

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News - Press Release

PARLIAMENT DEFERS DEBATE ON THE FINANCE ACT 2017
The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Thursday 20th April 2017 unanimously voted for the deferment of debate on the Bill entitled “The Finance Act 2017”, pending a pre-legislative briefing and that it should be piloted by the substantive Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Momodu Kargbo.
Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, Minority Leader of the House who moved the motion explained the importance of the Finance Bill that it provides for the sources of revenue for Government in respect of taxation. She furthered that the pre-legislative hearing will clearly explain the reductions, additions, and significant changes that have been included in the Finance Act of 2017 to Members of Parliament, who will better articulate issues connected thereto during the course of the debate.
The Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament, SBB Dumbuya said that “judging from the significance of the Bill, it should be preceded by a pre-legislative briefing” as per the dictates of parliamentary practices and procedures.
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Society -Local News

RTD. CAPTAIN ALIMAMY MAROUF SESAY - a civilian wrongfully tried by a military court-martial and summarily executed

On Sunday 26 March 2017, three very close family members were 'laid to rest' at a Thanksgiving and Memorial service held at the King Memorial United Methodist Church in Freetown. That service celebrated memories of the following family members: Mrs Lydia Sesay nee Yormah (my elder sister), her son Rtd. Captain Alimamy Sesay, and Madame Gbonu Yormah nee Gbloh. 

Although these departed loved ones had died and were interred several years ago in my absence that thanksgiving service enabled me to truly emotionally connect with their demise. For one of the deceased the circumstances of his death did not permit us to give him a fitting funeral so to me that service served as his fitting, albeit belated, funeral service. That event has now freed me from the encumbrances that had prevented me for almost 19 years to put my thoughts about his demise on paper. This piece therefore serves as a tribute to his memory.

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Development

PRESS RELEASE: Rural Renewable Energy Project Conducts Installation Training

FREETOWN, 19 April 2017: UNOPS Sierra Leone is hosting a training for selected installation companies, in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy, the President’s Recovery Priorities (PRP) programme and United Kingdom Government’s Department for International Development (DFID – also known as ‘UK Aid’).

The theoretical aspect of the training runs from 18th to 20thApril at the Golden Tulip Hotel, followed by 14 days of on-the-job sessionsin Petifu and Conakry Dee communities, in Port Loko District.ASACO, the supplier of the solar equipment, is providing the training facilitators and installation tools.

Participants are mainly Sierra Leonean engineers from Barefoot Women Solar Engineers Association (BWSEA),Frontier Business Solutions (FBS) and APTECH Africa Limited. Training contents include, photovoltaic (PV) system basics, types of solar systems, arrays and connections, project safety and guidance on using the installation checklists.

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Politics

SAM SUMANA TRAVELS TO GHANA ON "EMERGENCY TRAVEL CERTIFICATE"
Former elected Vice President Samuel Sam Sumana left Freetown International Airport, Lungi late afternoon Wednesday April 19, 2017 onboard Kenya Airways on an "Emergency Travel Certificate",  en route to Abuja, Nigeria on or about April 23/24, 2017 for the hearing of his petition filed on October 24, 2016 in the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, "seeking an enforcement of his fundamental Human Rights arising from his unconstitutional removal from office, and for further orders contained in the application."
 
"This matter has been set down for hearing by the Court for April 26, 2017."
 
According to a spokesman for the Sam Sumana family Matthias Bendu who was with Sam Sumana at the airport until the aircraft was airborne because of advanced information reaching the family that there would be some problem awaiting Sam Sumana at the airport, Matthias Bendu told this Writer on the cellphone from the airport that Sam Sumana "was detained by Immigration Officers at the airport for more than thirty minutes  after the aircraft  landed, and it was due to the intervention of the Inspector General of Police Francis Munu who told the immigration Officers that Sam Sumana had not committed any crime and must be allowed to travel".
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