Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

50,000 slum residents angry at Ebola curfew

A burial team wearing protective clothing retrieves the body of a 60-year-old Ebola victim in his home in Liberia

Hundreds of residents of a seaside slum clashed with security forces to protest against an armed blockade as part of desperate efforts to stop the spread of the Ebola virus.

Protests in the capital Monrovia began yesterday morning when roads into and out of West Point were blocked by riot police and troops, while a coastguard boat patrolled offshore.

Security forces fired into the air to disperse the crowd, and residents threw stones. At least one person was injured.

Deputy police chief Abraham Kromah said security forces managed to restore order in the area.

Over the weekend, angry West Point residents raided an Ebola screening centre, accusing officials of bringing sick people from all over Monrovia into their neighbourhood.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered West Point sealed off and imposed a nationwide curfew from 9pm to 6am.

"We have been unable to control the spread" of Ebola, Ms Sirleaf said in an address to the nation. She blamed the rising case toll on denial, defiance of authorities and cultural burial practices, in which bodies are handled. Bodies have been in the streets for days, even though residents asked that they are picked up by health ministry workers.

But many feel the government has not done enough to protect them from the outbreak.

The move to seal off the 50,000 residents of the impoverished peninsula shows that the Government is struggling to contain the virus. The outbreak, which began last December, has killed at least 1,350 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, the World Health Organisation said yesterday.

The agency also warned that "countries are beginning to experience supply shortages, including fuel, food, and basic supplies".

This comes after a number of airlines and shipping services halted transport to the worst affected capitals of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

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