EU Condemns Stigmatization of Ebola Affected Countries

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The European Union (EU) has taken exception to decisions  by some African countries and others to stop their flights from entering and taking off from countries affected by Ebola.

Besides the cancellation of flights, some African countries and others have suspended relations with Liberia and other West African Countries affected by Ebola. “That is stigmatizing,” said the EU, through its Deputy Director for Development Cooperation at the Commission, Marcus Cornaro.

Addressing a press conference at the EU’s Mamba Point office last Friday, Mr. Cornaro frowned on the acts by these countries and noted with emphasis that it was not helping the situation in Liberia and the other countries affected by the Ebola disease.  It was rather stigmatizing them.

“We must fight only to contain the disease and not to stigmatize affected countries by imposing restrictions,” he declared.

He gave assurance that EU would continue to support frontline groups, including Médecins Sans Frontières  (MSF)  and the World Health Organization (WHO) in fighting the disease, and its long-term development agenda for Liberia would continue,  regardless of the Ebola crisis.

Condemnation by the EU  Development Cooperation Director is coming a few weeks after the African Development Bank President Dr. Donald Kaberuka and World Health Regional Director Luis Gomez Sambo, during a brief visit with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, had condemned the action by these countries, notably the Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and South Africa.  These three countries have closed their borders to travelers from the three Ebola affected nations, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The two executives from the ADB and the WHO Regional African Office, in separate statements, said actions by some airlines to cancel flight and some countries to withdraw their people from Ebola-affected countries were not helping the situation.

The two men said the countries and airlines operators were acting sentimentally without a piece of advice from experts.  The two executives warned that such actions have the propensity to have serious adverse effects on the economies of the affected countries and bring additional social problems.

At the African Union and United Nations’ meetings held separate times in recent days, Liberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan cried foul, stressing that Liberia has always identified with other African countries in times of their trouble, but most of them in this Ebola crisis have suspended their relations with Liberia while other airlines have cancelled their flights.

Minister Ngafuan in his vehement assertions at the AU and UN meetings, stressed that actions by those unnamed African countries brought to question the definition of African solidarity. He noted  that when they needed Liberia, there was no skepticism about what they may contract from the country; but now that  Liberia needs them, they are all shying away with belief that Liberia is too dangerous a  place for them.

The Liberian Foreign Minister, however, not forgetting his diplomatic role, was quick on the two occasions to recognize some African countries and business entities that have continued to identify with Liberia amid the worsening Ebola crisis.

He named Nigeria, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Morocco for continuously identifying with Liberia.  He also named Air Moroc and SN Brussels that have continued to allow their flights to Liberia amidst the Ebola crisis.

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