Ebola: Protect Liberians in Nigeria from attack – Envoy

Patrick Sawyer Liberian who died of the Ebola virus in Lagos

Mr. Conteh said Liberians living in Lagos had been “targeted’’ after the death of Patrick Sawyer

The Liberian Government has appealed to Nigerian authorities to protect Liberian citizens in the country from “stereotyping and harassment” in the wake of the Ebola outbreak in West African.

Liberia’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Al-Hassan Conteh, made the appeal on Thursday in Abuja at a briefing organised by the Nigerian government for the diplomatic corps on Ebola outbreak in the country.

Mr. Conteh said Liberians living in Lagos had been “targeted’’ after the death of Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian and American citizen in Lagos from the Ebola virus.

Mr. Sawyer flew into Lagos from Monrovia for an ECOWAS meeting in Calabar in July. He took ill before and in the flight and was taken to a hospital in Lagos where he later died after testing positive to the Ebola virus.

It was revealed later that Sawyer had a sister in Liberia who died of the disease and he had direct contact with the victim.
Since his death, Nigeria has recorded six confirmed cases of the virus, all people who had direct contact with Mr. Sawyer.
One of them, a nurse, who attended to Sawyer, died on Tuesday in Lagos.

“The attention of our embassy has been brought to several cases of harassment of Liberians especially in Lagos and other places.

“As we combat this disease, this is not only health issue but social too. It is important that we frame our public campaign to indicate that association is not causation.

“For example, not because the index case came from Liberia then all Liberians have Ebola,” Mr. Conteh said.

He also condemned a cartoon in a national newspaper which he said denigrated his country.

Mr. Conteh thanked Nigeria for assisting Liberia with funds to fight the outbreak.
He said Liberia had declared state of emergency, effective August 6, for 90 days to institute extraordinary measures in combating the disease.

“The measures are indeed extraordinary even to the extent under our Constitution of curbing certain rights for individuals to put this disease to an end’’, he said.

Alfred Nelson-Williams, Deputy High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to Nigeria, said his country had also declared a state of emergency to tackle the disease.

“People with suspected Ebola have been put under surveillance.
“The parliaments have been recalled and the President even cancelled a trip to U.S for the US-Africa Summit.

“Apart from this, our country feel this thing has some spiritual input, so the President has called on the nation to be at home, reflect and pray’’, he said.

Mr. Nelson-Williams, a Major General, said the country had 130 survivors from the Ebola virus, a feat attributed to the power of prayer and healthcare.

He also thanked Nigeria for its support to Sierra Leone Government and donating funds to help combat the disease.


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