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AFRICAN NEWS & INFORMATION
‘God is angry with Liberia,’ local religious leaders say, blaming Ebola on ‘homosexualism Tags: News Liberia Ebola Health

The lifeless body of a man lays unattended in the street in Monrovia on Aug. 5. Locals suspect him of having died from the deadly Ebola virus (Abbas Dullehv /AP)


Amid the reports emerging out of Liberia, it’s difficult to discern what is true and what isn’t. But the fear they carry is undeniable: Fear of the disease, fear of dead bodies, fear that God himself has sent down a terrible plague to blight the people of Liberia for their transgressions.

There are local reports that “armed men” are allegedly trying to poison wells “to kill in the name of Ebola.” There are reports that the government is dumping bodies by the truckload at a mass grave on the west bank of a river and nearby residents fret over water contamination. And there are Reuters reports of bodies lying in the streets of Liberia’s capital Monrovia for days.

The Ebola pandemic — which has killed 887 in West Africa including 255 in Liberia — has terrified people so much that some local leaders discern divine meaning in it. According to Front Page Africa and the Daily Observer, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called on Tuesday for all residents to fast for three days and pray for forgiveness.

VIDEO: Ebola Victim On The Street

“Relying on His divine guidance for our survival as a nation,” she announced, “I call on all Liberians to observe three days of national fast and prayer to seek God’s face to have mercy on us and forgive our sins and heal our land, Liberia, as we continue to fight against the deadly Ebola virus.”

That followed a recent recommendation by the Liberian Council of Churches, which said in a statement last week the outbreak has Biblical implications. “God is angry with Liberia,” the religious leaders said, according to the Daily Observer. “Ebola is a plague. Liberians have to pray and seek God’s forgiveness over the corruption and immoral acts (such as homosexualism, etc.) that continue to penetrate our society. As Christians, we must repent and seek God’s forgiveness.”

The statement then urged people to stay home. But while it would seem an intuitive method of controlling the disease, the act of staying put, according to Reuters, can mean medical workers and patients fail to show up at clinics, frustrating overtaxed government agencies with few resources to combat what’s now a full-blown pandemic. Many Liberians remain deeply distrustful of Western medicine, and don’t want to go to the hospital if they start feeling unwell, reported Reuters’s Clair MacDougall and Daniel Flynn.

Some sick villagers in Paynesville outside Monrovia, for instance, forbid government aid workers entry to their house, the Daily Observer reported. “Family members there refused to talk to them,” one villager said. “They even claimed that the team was there because they wanted to remove the kidneys of [the sick] if they followed the team to a nearby health facility for testing.”

As a result of such misgivings, the bodies are piling up in Monrovia: in the rivers, in front of houses, in streets. As seen in video captured by France 24, one suspected Ebola victim died underneath a tree, on top of stones, in a red skirt. Concerned neighbors viewed her corpse from afar as health workers draped her in a white sheet.

Two more bodies, cloaked in white body bags, bobbed in a city lake off a main thoroughfare, according to a lengthy Front Page Africa report. Motorists said they contacted the health ministry, but no one showed up, so the bodies remained in the lake, floating. “There are dead bodies all over the place and they now know that it’s real,” Agence France-Presse recently quoted the Liberian president saying. “This is very, very serious; it’s very nearing a catastrophe.”

In another section of Monrovia, Reuters reported, two men who had shown symptoms of Ebola died in the streets — and then lay there undisturbed for four days before government workers picked them up. “They both gave up and dropped dead on the ground on the street of Clara Town,” one resident told the news organization.

Other relatives of the dead were seen dragging corpses onto the street and leaving them there. “They are therefore removing the bodies from their homes and are putting them out in the street,” Information Minister Lewis Brown told Reuters. “They’re exposing themselves to the risk of being contaminated. We’re asking people to please leave the bodies in their homes and we’ll pick them up.”

The issue of what to do with the bodies, once collected, has confounded local officials who have struggled with whether to cremate them or bury them — and where. Few communities want to take the bodies, according to the Daily Observer. One man told the paper that bodies had been disposed of on his private land.

“I’m not asking them to pay me for my land,” he told the paper. “I’m going to take the authorities to task for illegally using my land to bury dead bodies.”

Source: WP

Liberia Declares State Of Emergency As Ebola Toll Rises Tags: News Liberia Ebola Health

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf declared a state of emergency on Wednesday to fight an outbreak of Ebola, saying the scale of the epidemic represented a threat to state security.

“The government and people of Liberia require extraordinary measures for the very survival of our state and for the protection of the lives of our people,” she said in an official statement. “I ... hereby declare a State of Emergency throughout the Republic of Liberia effective as of Aug. 6, 2014 for a period of 90 days.”

The outbreak of the deadly haemorrhagic fever has overwhelmed rudimentary healthcare systems and prompted the deployment of troops to quarantine the worst-hit areas in the remote border region of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, as the death toll from the worst outbreak of the disease hit 932 in West Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 45 new deaths in the three days to Aug. 4, and its experts began an emergency meeting in Geneva on Wednesday to discuss whether the outbreak constitutes a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” and to discuss new measures to contain the outbreak.

International alarm at the spread of the disease increased when a U.S. citizen died in Nigeria late last month after flying there from Liberia. The health minister said on Wednesday that a Nigerian nurse who had treated the deceased Patrick Sawyer had herself died of Ebola, and five other people were being treated in an isolation ward in Lagos, Africa’s largest city.

VIDEO

In Saudi Arabia, a man suspected of contracting Ebola during a recent business trip to Sierra Leone also died early on Wednesday in Jeddah, the Health Ministry said. Saudi Arabia has already suspended pilgrimage visas from West African countries, which could prevent those hoping to visit Mecca for the Haj in early October.

Liberia, where the death toll is rising fastest, is struggling to cope. Many residents are panicking, in some cases casting out the bodies of family members onto the streets of Monrovia to avoid quarantine measures.

Beneath heavy rain, ambulance sirens wailed through the otherwise quiet streets of Monrovia on Wednesday as residents heeded a government request to stay at home for three days of fasting and prayers.

The lifeless body of a man lays unattended in the street in Monrovia on Aug. 5. Locals suspect him of having died from the deadly Ebola virus (Abbas Dullehv /AP)


“Everyone is afraid of Ebola. You cannot tell who has Ebola or not. Ebola is not like a cut mark that you can see and run,” said Sarah Wehyee as she stocked up on food at the local market in Paynesville, an eastern suburb of Monrovia.

St. Joseph’s Catholic hospital was shut down after the Cameroonian hospital director died from Ebola, authorities said. Six staff subsequently tested positive for the disease, including two nuns and 75-year old Spanish priest Miguel Pajares, who is due to be repatriated by a special medical aircraft on Wednesday.

Troops deployed in operation “White Shield”

Spain’s health ministry denied that one of the nuns - born in Equatorial Guinea but holding Spanish nationality - had tested positive for Ebola. The other nun is Congolese.

“We hope they can evacuate us. It would be marvellous, because we know that, if they take us to Spain, at least we will be in good hands,” Pajares told CNN in Spanish this week.

Healthcare workers are in the front line of fighting the virus, and two U.S. health workers from Christian medical charity Samaritan’s Purse caught the virus in Monrovia and are now receiving treatment in an Atlanta hospital.

The two saw their conditions improve by varying degrees in Liberia after they received an experimental drug, a representative for the charity said.

Three of the world’s leading Ebola specialists urged the WHO to offer people in West Africa the chance to take experimental drugs, too, but the agency said it “would not recommend any drug that has not gone through the normal process of licensing and clinical trials”.

Highly contagious, Ebola kills more than half of the people who contract it. Victims suffer from fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and internal and external bleeding.

Many regular hospitals and clinics have been forced to close across Liberia, often because health workers are too afraid of contracting the virus themselves or because of abuse by locals who think the disease is a government conspiracy.

In an effort to control the disease’s spread, Liberia has deployed the army to implement controls and isolate severely affected communities, an operation codenamed “White Shield”.

The information ministry said on Wednesday that soldiers were being deployed to the isolated, rural counties of Lofa, Bong, Cape Mount and Bomi to set up checkpoints and implement tracing measures on residents suspected of coming into contact with victims.

Source: Reuters

Boko Haram Kills 100 As It Sets Fire to And Seizes Another Major Town Tags: News Nigeria Crime Boko Haram West Africa

Extremist group Boko Haram has reportedly seized yet another major Nigerian town, killing at least 100 civilians in the process. Nigeria's Daily Post reports that Gwoza, one of the most populated areas in the northeastern Borno State, was seized by the group at dawn, who came in using armored tanks and Toyota Hilux pickup trucks.

Local news agency Sahara Reporters says that the attack began at dawn, and the town was under Boko Haram control by late morning. Nigerian soldiers were reportedly outmatched by what SR calls, worryingly, Boko Haram's "increasingly sophisticated weaponry."

Men, women and children were targeted indiscriminately in the attack; the group also set shops and other buildings on fire and threw explosives at the local police. It's just the latest in the group's horrendous greatest-hits tour: the 200 Nigerian schoolgirls they kidnapped in April remain missing, and at the end of July they kidnapped the wife of the vice prime minister of Cameroon.

The Nigerian military isn't conducting itself so well either, using the fight against Boko Haram to engage in some extrajudicial killing of its own. Amnesty International said yesterday they have "gruesome" footage implicating the army in war crimes against civilians. The human rights organization says it obtained video and testimony from multiple sources, including "horrific images of detainees having their throats slit one by one and dumped in mass graves by men who appear to be members of the Nigerian military," as well as the Civilian Joint Task Force, which Amnesty International calls a "state-sponsored militia."

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General called the killings "further proof of the appalling crimes being committed with abandon by all sides in the conflict."

And what of the missing schoolgirls? They're still unaccounted for, although a U.S. surveillance aircraft reportedly spotted what looked like "large groups of girls" in a remote northeastern part of the country.

One surveillance flight spotted roughly 70 girls in early July, while another flight saw 40 or so near the end of the month. Boko Haram has deployed several female suicide bombers in recent weeks, but Nigerian government officials have said they don't believe the schoolgirls are being used as human bombs.

Source: gawker

Obama to Rename Africa Program for Nelson Mandela Tags: News Nelson Mandela Barack Obama & Africa South Africa Barack Obama

A program designed to foster a new generation of young African leaders will be renamed after former South African President Nelson Mandela, the White House said Sunday.

President Barack Obama, who has said he was one of the untold millions of people around the world who were inspired by Mandela's life, is set to announce the name change at a town hall-style event on Monday in Washington with several hundred young leaders from across sub-Saharan Africa.

The youngsters are participating in the inaugural Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, part of the broader Young African Leaders Initiative that Obama launched in 2010 to support a new generation of leadership there. The fellowship is being renamed as a tribute to Mandela, who died last December at age 95.

Obama announced the fellowship during a stop in South Africa last summer. It connects young African leaders to leadership training opportunities at top U.S. universities.

In remarks at Monday's event, Obama also was announcing new public-private partnerships to create more programs for young African leaders, including four regional leadership centers across Africa, online classes and other resources, the White House said.

Mandela spent 27 years in jail under apartheid, South Africa's former system of white minority rule, before eventually leading his country through a difficult transition to democracy. In 1994, he became the first democratically elected leader of a post-apartheid South Africa.

This week's events with the next generation of young African leaders are a lead-in to the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, being held Aug. 4-6 in Washington. About 50 African leaders are expected to attend what the White House says will be the largest gathering any U.S. president has held with African heads of state and government.

Source: AP

Michelle Obama: ‘The Blood of Africa Runs Through My Veins’ (VIDEO) Tags: News Africa World Youth Education

Speaking to a group of young Africans in Washington, US first lady Michelle Obama said that the "blood of Africa" runs through her veins. "The roots of my family tree are in Africa. As you know, my husband’s father was born and raised in Kenya," Michellle Obama.

MICHELLE OBAMA: “As an African-American woman, this conversation is deeply personal to me. The roots of my family tree are in Africa. As you know, my husband’s father was born and raised in Kenya. Members of our extended family still live there. I have had the pleasure of traveling to Africa a number of times over the years, including four trips as First Lady. And I’ve brought my mother and my daughters along with me whenever I can. So believe me, the blood of Africa runs through my veins and I care deeply about Africa’s future.”

Michelle Obama: 'Blood of Africa Runs Through My Veins

Source: AP

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