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Koroma, others urged by African leaders to sign Ebola petition

…Britain, France, U.S. & Germany indicted

SEPTEMBER 4, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi

TRYING TIMES … President Koroma and Sierra Leoneans expected to sign the Ebola petition

TRYING TIMES … President Koroma and Sierra Leoneans expected to sign the Ebola petition

As the Ebola viral disease continues to spread in the West Africa sub-region, governments have started adopting strict measures to avoid contagion. Those measures include air and sea restrictions and border closures with countries worst affected by the disease.

This situation, according to many African leaders, has the tendency of creating a de facto system, especially in countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, which they say is against the recommendations prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and humanitarian groups like the International Federation of the Red Cross and Medicins Sans Frontieres, who are at the frontline of the battle to contain and defeat the virus.

African leaders, including Olusegun Obasanjo – former President of Nigeria; Graca Machel – President of the Foundation for Community Development; Bineta Diop – Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security, African Union; Youssou Ndour – singer; Ali Mufuruki – InfoTech Investment Group; and many others, have widely circulated a petition against the international community, including Britain, France, Germany, and United States, with President Ernest Bai Koroma and other heads of state and citizens of affected countries expected to sign the petition.

The petition, which is titled ‘Citizens Call to Action against Ebola’, has been widely circulated around the world. The petitioners believe that the Ebola virus is an overwhelming human catastrophe affecting public health, social institutions and economic well-being in Africa, and that they stand in solidarity with citizens in the countries victimized by this deadly disease.

“We thank and salute the local and international health workers who are risking their lives daily intervening on the ground to eradicate the scourge of Ebola, often without access to gloves and other protective supplies. We acknowledge and applaud the decision of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) health ministers to call for the lifting of travel bans to Ebola affected countries, which are hampering the fight against Ebola and restricting the arrival of essential expertise and equipment, as well as fuel to provide electricity, medications to treat other deadly diseases such as malaria and food to prevent famine.

“In the name and interest of our common humanity, we are collectively launching this urgent Citizens’ Call to Action. We call on our respective Heads of State and Government to avoid full embargo against Ebola-affected states. While we understand the legitimate concerns for the protection of their population, we remind African leaders of their obligation to pan-African solidarity and the global community of their humanitarian obligations in emergencies. We urge the following immediate actions:

“The flow of essential assistance can reach those in need, while maintaining economic activity necessary for sustaining life in cities and villages, by authorizing and implementing the local recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledging the impossibility of quarantining entire nations and instead establish much-needed economic and humanitarian corridors of access – essential life-lines – both within the affected countries and between countries,” they stated.

The petition added that African opinion leaders, including artists, athletes, filmmakers, writers, journalists and academics, should actively participate in public information campaigns on prevention and transmission of Ebola.

“We call on the broad private sector, the pharmaceutical industry, and the research community, in particular, to fund, facilitate and make immediately available access to all known methods of prevention and treatment of this menacing threat to our global well-being,” the release concludes.