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  • EU Condemns Stigmatization of Ebola Affected Countries

    first_imgThe 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.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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  • UN Drive Rally Time Market Health Post, Businesses Engulfed in Big Dirt

    first_imgThe United Nations Drive Rally Time  Market, one health post and dozens of small and medium-size business entities and more than 55,000 residents are engulfed in a big, rotten pile of dirt.As a result, business entity owners and several small business Liberians have sounded an urgent appeal to the Municipal Government and its urban waste managers to swiftly remove the rotten garbage.Unfortunately, the only health post catering to the estimated 55,000 residents and many business entities are situated in the midst of stench and squalor at the crowded market in Central Monrovia.According to historical findings, for more than 18 years, residents, business owners and other concerned health workers continue to render services, do business and work in the crisis prone sanitation community.It may be recalled that due to the unhygienic conditions of the Rally Time Market and its proximity of nearby health hazard, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former Labor Minister Samuel Kofi Woods led a major cleanup  exercise in the area.On that day of the vigorous clean up exercise by the Liberian leader and former Labor Minister Woods, 55 truckloads of rotten dirt were cleared and transported to the Whein Town Garbage Disposal site in Paynesville.Sadly, during the hectic course of the clean up exercise at the Rally Time Market, human and domestic animal skeletons were discovered buried underneath the garbage.Moreover, at the time of the dirt collection and disposal, health workers assigned at the medical facility expressed grave concern about the suitability of healthcare center few feet away from the unhygienic dumpsite at the Rally Time Market.In a swift response, following several public outcries, late last week the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) and the contracting garbage company were seen cleaning the rotten garbage at the Rally Time Market on UN Drive in Monrovia.But to date, the sentiments of the health workers have not borne any fruitful result as residents and business entities in the area continue indiscriminately to dump waste near the clogged drainage close to medical facility.On top of the sanitation crisis, a health survey of the Rally Time Market area indicates that more than 15 dozen houses built there do not have basic sanitation facilities such toilets and bathrooms.Another sanitation factor that has added to the miseries of the Rally Time Market Community is the more two decades-old drainage that is on many occasions during the Rainy Season flooded with rotten dirt that comes from Lynch Street, a few yards from the Ministry of Public Works.“Such a clustered and overcrowded community of more than 55,000 residents and dozens of business entities and no physical sanitation facilities is indeed a potential health hazard, making it a disease prone settlement,” said Mr. Davidson B. Dennis, a Monrovia sanitation commentator.Mr. Dennis, however, wondered whether with three years for the exit of the current Unity Party-led administration, Monrovia’s sanitation nightmare can be fixed, or is it indeed doomed to failure.It will be a stroke of magic and indeed a  miracle if the Liberian Government were to transform the Monrovia’s perennial sanitation crisis into an oasis of cleanliness. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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  • Police Vows ‘Fire for Fire’

    first_imgThe Liberia National Police (LNP) have vowed to return “fire for fire” after arresting a Lebanese national identified as Hichen Alkhatib, for alliedly supplying very fearsome face masks used by alleged armed robbers, “We are not going to sit there and allow criminals to shoot at the police anymore and go free; we are going to return fire for fire. We are going to engage them with arms for arms,” Col. Chris Massaquoi vowed on Monday, September 8 when he addressed a press conference at the LNP headquarters in Monrovia.Alkhatib is believed to be the proprietor of the 750 Shopping Center situated on Somalia Drive in Gardnerville, a suburb of Monrovia.The police chief claimed Alkhatib’s face mask was arrested with a suspect named Sam Dixon (alias ERU), who had allegedly robbed several residents within the Somalia Drive community.Director Massaquoi further claimed that another two most notorious armed robbers, only identified as Lasso and Alieu, whom he said, were still on the run, are close associates of Alkhatib.“Our investigation so far established that the green face mask used by armed robber Sam Dixon, alias ERU, was supplied by this Lebanese national,” the Police chief stated.“Consequently the police conducted a search on the home of this Lebanese and retrieved five additional pieces of the identical green face mask that was arrested from ERU,” he further added.At the same time, Director Massaquoi disclosed that eight other robbers have been arrested and were undergoing interrogations at the LNP’s headquarters in Monrovia.The eight are alleged to have carried out their act in the Paynesville and Somalia Drive communities.  “They were arrested with various kinds of dangerous weapons including arms and knives among others,” IG Massaquoi added.“These criminals, we believe, have been terrorizing peaceful residents and taking away their personal belongings.”He named a single barrel pistol, a cutlass, toy gun (pistol), two single barrel ammunitions, six pieces of green masks, two Chinese headlights and long military trousers as some of the materials retrieved during the raid.Other items retrieved, he said; include laptops, cell phones and computer accessories.According to him, they were making effort to apprehend another five suspected armed robbers believed to be on the run.“We are exerting frantic efforts to arrest Lewis Kennedy, alias Prof; Kessely Mulbah, alias Kizo; and Patrick Wah, alias Color Boy.”The police chief also admitted that his office has received numerous reports of a group of individuals roaming around communities, especially Paynesville, allegedly dressed in uniforms resembling those of the LNP.“In order to address the issue, we have met private security entities whose uniforms have similarity to the LNP to immediately desist from using them from now on, and they are cooperating,” he disclosed.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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  • Street Child to Identify Support for Ebola Victimized Children

    first_imgProviding support to children whose parents have died due to the Ebola outbreak in the country should claim the attention of humanitarian organizations, Mr. Michael John Bull, program director of Street Child of Liberia, SCOL, has said.Bull told newsmen yesterday in Monrovia that his organization is concerned about children who have lost parents to the Ebola virus.“We have discussed the issue,” Bull said, “and Street Child will trace relatives of children whose parents died as a result of the Ebola virus.“Our intervention will include providing them counseling to help them cope with what others may say in the community; also we’ll provide them with emergency food as well as grants to such families to help take care of them through a business assistance scheme.”He said as a child advocate organization, he understands the negative effects on such children, and therefore believes that such intervention is critical to help them.“What we (SCOL) are doing is to visit communities and collect information on such children and then we can begin to work with family members,” Bull said.Bull noted that parents who may be suffering from any of the symptoms associated with Ebola should ensure that their children are separated from them.He said Street Child of Liberia is concerned about the future of such children, particularly as the Ebola virus is causing many deaths in the country.“As we continue to fight the scourge of Ebola,” Bull said, “we must also protect the most vulnerable members of our family, who are our children.”He re-echoed the need for parents to educate their children to follow preventive methods in the fight against the Ebola virus.Street Child of Liberia has reunified more than four hundred street children through education, including nine who participated in the Street Child World Cup in Brazil, last March.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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  • To End Ebola Attack, Top African Business Leaders Pump US$28.5M

    first_imgTop African business leaders have raised US$28.5 million as an emergency fund to help three countries that have been hard hit by the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa.The announcement was made recently during an African Business Roundtable (ABR) summit on Ebola held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where African business leaders and officials of development finance institutions and members of African Union (AU) countries gathered to launch the emergency response fund.According to a dispatched from Addis Ababa, “the roundtable summit was jointly organized by the AU, the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to mobilize African business leaders on the EVD, and to provide their support in the fight against the disease.”African business leaders at the roundtable comprised chief executive officers (CEOs) from different sectors, including banking institutions, telecommunications, mining, energy services and manufacturing companies.At the summit, “business leaders agreed to establish a fund under the auspices of the African Union Foundation, through a facility managed by the AfDB, to boost efforts to equip, train and deploy African health workers to fight the epidemic.”In response to appeals from these countries, leading companies in Africa provided logistical support, in kind contributions and over US$28 million as part of the first wave of pledges.In addition, participants further called on the private sector across Africa to join them in this effort. Businesses also agreed to leverage their resources and capacity to help galvanize citizens action around a ‘United Against Ebola’ campaign, and to provide individuals across Africa and globally with an opportunity to contribute.The consensus at the meeting was that the funds committed would be disbursed immediately to the government and health authorities in the Ebola affected countries.The funds would be used to support an African medical corps – including doctors, nurses and lab technicians – to care for those infected with Ebola, strengthen the capacity of local health services and staff Ebola treatment centers’ in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.The resources are expected to be deployed in the framework of the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA), in close coordination with the national taskforces in those Ebola-affected countries, and the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).The resources mobilized will also be part of a longer-term program to build Africa’s capacity to deal with such outbreaks if any in the future.”Our immediate concern is to respond to the appeal for 1,000 health care workers,” chairman of Econet Wireless, an African telecom operator, Strive Masiyiwa, told foreign reporters.”We have also received considerable contributions in kind, which may well exceed what we have received in cash.”Ebola has killed 4,950 people of the 13,241 infected since the outbreak started earlier this year, according to the World Health Organization, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.While countries such as the United States to China and Cuba have deployed resources and health personnel in a U.N.-led aid surge, fast-growing African states and institutions have faced questions about the level and speed of their own contributions.The AU and the AfDB will guide the legal set-up of the new fund, which will be administered by a board of trustees drawn from corporate Africa.Givers to the fund also include foreign firms that do business in Africa, Masiyiwa said.At the meeting, African telecom firms also agreed an initiative to provide a platform for their customers to give at least a dollar each, with the potential of reaching 700 million mobile phone users, he added.AfDB has been spearheading provision of financial support to the countries severely affected by the disease, namely, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and so far, has committed $223 million to the purpose.The bank’s estimates show that the current Ebola crisis would, in 2014, reduce Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in Guinea by 2.4 percent, Liberia by 3.9 percent, and Sierra Leone by 3.7 percent.In Sierra Leone, for example, price inflation could reach 29.4 percent should the situation continues up to the end of the year.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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  • Stick to Principles, Journalists, Media Institutions Urged

    first_imgThe director of the Catholic Media Center/CAMCAM, Rev. Fr. Ambrose Dayouga Kroma, has urged Liberian journalists and media institutions to stop being foot-soldiers of propaganda and the promotion of selfish interests.They should instead adhere to principles and the ethics of journalism and better serve the human and national interests.Rev. Fr. Kroma made the statement yesterday at the opening of a one-day training workshop for journalists and editorial staff of Radio VERITAS.The workshop focused on the ethics and standards in journalism.Whenever media institutions are manipulated by self-interests and personal aggrandizement, good journalists will inadvertently, do damage when they report controversial and sensational stories out of context, said Fr. Kroma.According to him, failure to maintain ethical principles in the newsroom and poor understanding of the potential impact of the powerful effect of words and images can lead to acts of journalism that encourage hatred, violence, discrimination as well as social and economic injustice, and the lack of peace.The Catholic Media Center director said: “You will agree with me that the news room in Liberia today, like in any other country, is a very challenging place. For in the competitive world of the modern media, information flies around at lightning speed. There is little time for checking facts and images or confirming information and virtually no space for laid back discussions on the ethics of journalism.” It is within this conviction that management in an effort to rebrand radio VERITAS in terms of content, outlook, and human-centered programming, has embarked on the second of a series of workshops focusing  on journalistic ethics, Rev.Fr. Kroma disclosed.“I hope that through this workshop, a clearer understanding of the station’s  mission statement and editorial policy as laid down by the Catholic Church will be understood and serve as a guiding principle in our effort to  educate the public and promote the social, economic, moral and spiritual well being of our society,” he declared.Despite the scarcity of time, he strongly believes that given the vital role and importance of credible information to peace building in post conflict Liberia, reporters and editors must pause and take a moment to judge the potential impact of offensive, divisive and inflammatory news content.Failure to give due consideration to this delicate act of managing and balancing information in journalism can result to tragic consequences, he warned.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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  • Public Schools Remain Closed In Bong County

    first_imgDespite the Ministry of Education’s pronouncement for the reopening of schools across the country on February 16, most public schools in Bong County are yet to resume classes.No official reasons have been provided so far to the Daily Observer up to press time last night.However, a survey conducted by the paper yesterday in Gbranga, Bong County’s Provincial City, established that most public schools’ doors were closed.At the Dolokelen Gboveh High School, the only public high school in Gbarnga, there were no students or teachers on campus as the school’s doors remained closed and debris seen blowing about had littered the vicinity.Other public institutions visited included the Nathaniel Varney Massaquoi High School, the John Flomo Bakalu Junior High School and the Suakoko Central High School. They were all vacant with no signs of reopening.School authorities contacted by the Daily Observer said their failure to resume academic activities is due to the lack of instructional materials such as chalk, books as well as the Ebola preventive equipment, including hand sanitizers, hand washing buckets and temperature testing equipment.On the other hand, major private schools in the county, including St. Martin’s Catholic High School resumed classes in compliance with the MOE’s mandate.Education Ministry authorities in the county refused to speak on the matter when contacted by this paper.It may be recalled that the MOE recently suspended the acting Education Officer for Bong County, Madam Lydia Cooper, and several other principals of public schools for allegedly collecting extra school fees outside the ministry’s set fees.The MOE recently announced that public school students from grades 1-9 would enroll “free of charge,” while students in the senior high level would register with an affordable fee of L$700 which could be paid in three installments.Education Regional Coordinator for Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties, George S.S. Wuo told the Daily Observer recently that the acting CEO and the four principals were suspended for “time indefinite for violating the ministry’s policies.”He informed this paper that the ministry’s action to suspend the acting CEO and the four principals stemmed from persistent reports from human rights groups in the county who claim that the CEO and the principles in question were charging excessive fees.Meanwhile, some parents who spoke to this paper argued that the MOE authorities had not done much to ensure that the necessary anti-Ebola materials are provided before the reopening of schools.At the same time, human rights groups operating in the county who reported that schools were collecting additional fees have not commented on the failure of public schools to resume classes as mandated by the MOE.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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  • ‘Women Pressured by Society to Compromise on Violence’

    first_imgThe Deputy Minister of Justice for Administration and Public Safety, Wheatonia Dixon Barnes, has acknowledged that women in Liberia are often pressured by society to compromise on violence against themselves.Addressing women security officers during a program held Monday at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection on UN Drive in Monrovia, Deputy Minister Barnes explained that women around the world gather on this day to celebrate their economic, political and social achievements and to promote actions that advance their rights and opportunities.The International Women’s Day was celebrated under the global theme, ‘Make it Happen’ and the national theme, “Women Rising Beyond Ebola: the Way Forward for Female Security Sector Officers in Liberia.” “In many stances, women are pressured by society to compromise on this kind of violence against them—rape,” Minister Barnes said.  “As security officers, it is your responsibility to help educate communities on the law and to encourage even survivors to come forward and build trust within the law.”The Minister explained that on a daily basis Liberian women continue to suffer a high level of violent abuse, including rape, gender-based violence and domestic violence.  “We are also acting in solidarity with women across the globe who took time to pay tribute to women and support women’s equality.”She recalled that the UN General Assembly Resolution instituted this day in 1977 to highlight and recognize that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms required active participation of equality and development of women.She continued, “Women’s Day is also created to appreciate the efforts of women in maintaining international peace and security.  In Liberia, our history has taught us that there is no sustainable peace and security in the absence of equality.”Also speaking, the President of Liberia Female Law Enforcement Association (LIFEA), Atty. Asatu Bah Kenneth, said they were grateful for International Women’s Day and explained that women in the security sector were also engaged in various assignments during the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease.  Women served in ETUs and at the borders, she noted.“With support from partners we are now able to create awareness among women in the various counties that while executing our duties some of us could become victims of the deadly Ebola virus.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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  • Liberia’s National Museum ‘Needs Overhaul’

    first_imgThe national museum of Liberia is more than a century’s old and in deplorable conditions, with fissures in the walls, flakes of paint peeling off and molds visible on almost every aspect of the building. Rainwater seeps in through leakages in the roof and the ceilings look ready to collapse.Erected in 1862 and once hosting the house of legislators and Supreme Court of Liberia, the museum underwent a minor repair believed to have been the first of its kind after the country’s fourteen-year-old civil war. The first tiers of the building, which contain memoirs of past presidents and cartographical materials, related to Liberia’s culture artifacts, are being destroyed gradually due to rainwater and poor methods of preservation.The second and third tiers of the museum containing art galleries that illustrate Liberia’s artistic works appear to be in a better condition than the first tier of the building. However the museum lacks electricity, pipe-borne water, there is no safety hazard, and most cultural artifacts are being ruined.Louise McMillian, Assistant Minister for Culture at the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) said: “We are aware of the museum’s condition and renovation is underway for this month.”Min. McMillian noted that the renovation of the museum doesn’t only include the building but also every cultural artifact that has been damaged. “All those items that are partly or fully damaged will be restored and preserved for the future generation,” Min. McMillian said, adding: “When the renovation is completed it will restore the museum’s dignity as a place to learn the country’s heritage.”Min. McMillian put the cost of transformation of the museum to the amount of US$345,000, but fell short of disclosing when the project would be completed.She said further “all documents like the book of condolence of late President W.V.S. Tubman that has had some parts damaged will be placed in a glass enclosure for proper documentation.”The Minister explained that after renovation the museum will have electricity, pipe-borne water and safety hazards, and a tight security system will be implemented. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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  • Cartoon: May 29, 2015

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