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On Ebola, Bleak Picture of Liberia's Response, Johnson Sirleaf Re-Think?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 9 -- With ebola exploding across Liberia, the head of the UNMIL mission Karin Landgren provided the Security Council on September 9 with a bleak picture of the government's response. Elections have been postponed; quarantines were imposed without sufficient planning for even food and water for those cordoned off, for example in Monrovia's West Point neighborhood.

   While Landgren did not directly mention it, there favoritism was shown in allowing some to get out of the quarantine zone. Not surprisingly there is a growing distrust for the country's president, Ellen Johnson Sirfleaf, long a UN and UNGA week darling. But will any of her champions now publicly re-think?

  Landgren insisted that UNMIL is not directly involved in quarantining. 

But the UN has still left unanswered a question about ebola related restrictions ascribed to its peacekeeping mission in Darfur, UNAMID.

On September 8, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: On Ebola, can you confirm that UNAMID has ordered troops from Nigeria and Sierra Leone either not to return to their countries on holiday in return because according to UNAMID, the UN-African Union Mission, they might bring Ebola, and also there is another statement saying that prior to this ban on traveling home for holiday, that UNAMID had ordered medical screening as they left and as they came back from, and to Nigeria and Sierra Leone, making trips to or from the UN?

Spokesman Dujarric: The report in the Sudan Tribune is incorrect.

Inner City Press: Okay, which part of it?

Spokesman Dujarric: About the UN telling troops not to leave. What we are always looking for in any peacekeeping mission is an orderly rotation of troops to ensure that any mission is able to perform in the best possible manner. On the screening issue, I donít know and I can ask.

  Twenty-two hours later, there was no answer. So, the UN including envoy to Liberia Karin Landgren insists there is no UN involvement in quarantining, but could that too be a semantic difference?

  In terms of the screening reported at UNAMID, some contrast it not only to UN Peacekeeping not performed the most basic screening of the peacekeepers which it brought, along with cholera, to Haiti -- but of not screening for cholera even now.

  The stonewalling by UN Peacekeeping's Herve Ladsous (video compilation here, UK coverage here) including on the question of accountability for his DPKO having brought cholera to Haiti raised questions as the UN speaks more and more about ebola. We'll have more on this.


 

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