Update on the Situation in Liberia as of August 21, 2014

West Point Health and Sanitation Office; Photo Credit: Joseph Hong)

West Point Health and Sanitation Office; Photo Credit: Joseph Hong

By: Francis Egu Lansana and Mitchell Sommers, Accountability Lab Residents in Liberia and Washington DC respectively.

The spread of Ebola continues to undermine stability in Liberia as it faces the most devastating onset of the virus in history. Recently the community of West Point, a neighborhood with which the Lab has worked closely, has become a global flashpoint for the tensions and fear caused by the disease.

Early on Wednesday, August 20th, the Government of Liberia announced a complete quarantine of West Point, the most populated low-income community (50,000+ residents) in Monrovia, in an effort to contain the spread of the Ebola virus. This announcement came four days after locals stormed a recently-established Ebola isolation center over claims that the deaths reported by the center were not West Point residents and were thus tarnishing the community’s reputation. Liberian officials have reportedly blocked the roadways and waterways surrounding the neighborhood.

West Pointers rely heavily on foot traffic between the different neighborhoods in Monrovia and the quarantine has created outrage among local residents who cannot get out to buy food and other supplies. Clashes between protesters and the police have resulted in violence, including an alleged (non-fatal) shooting of a 14-year old boy by security forces (see photos on NPR here). Early this morning, residents refused a shipment of water from the government, demonstrating the high degree of anger that exists with the public authorities in West Point. 

*Correction (August 23rd): We’ve since learned that residents have accepted subsequent shipments of food and water from the government without refusal. 

The crisis has exacerbated existing anger and mistrust between Liberians and the government, which reflects a lack of accountability between citizens and power holders. People in West Point have been telling us that they want to know why the government delayed four days in setting up the quarantine in West Point as well as who is responsible for the violence in the community.

The current situation has led to increased disputes between citizens. Our local Community Justice Teams (CJTs), who have already resolved more than 82 local disputes and are trusted by the community, are best placed to preserve peace in West Point during these trying times. These teams, who are working with Liberia’s Ministry of the Interior, are struggling to address the rising number of cases caused by the recent quarantine.

If you would like to support the teams by giving them the resources they need to preserve peace and build trust in West Point please visit our tinyGive campaign page here. Even a small amount goes a long way towards their efforts to resolve disputes and fight the consequences of Ebola now and in the future. You can also cast your vote towards them here.

For more information contact the Lab: lawrenceyealue@accountabilitylab.org or +231-88-833-0901

Our Organization

The Accountability Lab empowers citizens to build creative tools for integrity and anti-corruption in their communities. The team provides training, mentorship, networks, management support and seed funding for the development of low-cost, high-impact ideas for positive change. By enabling people to use information and knowledge to hold their governments to account, the Lab is finding innovative ways to unlock the rich potential for political and economic development around the world. Recent initiatives include the development of the first ever film school in Liberia; and a popular portal to crowd-source information on public services in Nepal. You can read more about the Lab’s recent work here. The Lab is a “for purpose”, non-profit organization, based in the OpenGovHub. Learn more about our work on the Lab’s website and blog; and follow the Lab on Facebook and Twitter.

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4 responses to “Update on the Situation in Liberia as of August 21, 2014”

  1. Subodh Sharma says :

    Well i feel very sorry about the people of Liberia as i am part of the country.

  2. Angel Kamara says :

    Thank God the situation has been brought under control. The above building (office) in the picture has sanitation service as one of its services t–i believe that we have to work on our surrounding to ensure that it is kept well for better health conditions so that lives can be sustained. the office environment is so discouraging. Let’s work more for a better Liberian. the citizens are the ones who makeup the country.

    • Eric T. Moses says :

      To start with, Liberian alone could not contain the virus without the help of the international community especially the USA, China Union, EU AU, WHO, UNDP, MSF and many others that I can not name all, identified with Liberia, a country that is unable to sustain its population. This was what I call human solidarity shown to Liberia. Eric T. Moses from Liberia.

  3. oriokot george stephen says :

    ithank God the almigty for his love on our brothers and sisters in liberia,advice respective authorities in liberia & other parts of the world should maintain the love &the solidarity theyshowed our people in liberia

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