Wednesday, August 20, 2014 1:17 pm
Residents of a Monrovia neighbourhood, quarantined by the Liberian government to stem the spread of Ebola virus have clashed with the police, throwing stones at them as they agitated to leave their sealed neighbourhood.
The police reacted by firing teargas to disperse them, witnesses said..
Liberian authorities introduced a nationwide curfew on Tuesday and put the neighbourhood – West Point – under quarantine. The rundown area has been hit by Ebola, which has killed more than 1,200 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and five in Nigeria.
There were no injuries reported in the clash which witnesses said started after security forces blocked roads to the neighbourhood of 75,000 people early on Wednesday with tables, chairs and barbed wire. Residents said they were given no warning of the blockade, which prevented them from getting to work or buying food.
“We just saw it (the blockade) this morning. We came out and we couldn’t go anywhere. I haven’t heard from anybody in authority what happened,” Alpha Barry, 45, who works as a money changer, said.
“I don’t have any food and we’re scared,” said Barry, who said he was from Guinea and has four children under 13.
“What this woman is doing to us is inhuman,” one resident, Patrick Wesseh, said, referring to Sirleaf.
“You cannot lock us up abruptly without letting us know, how the kids will eat?”
A crowd at West Point looted a temporary holding centre for suspected Ebola cases at the weekend, 17 of whom fled. All 17 were now accounted for and being treated at another centre, the government said.
Liberia has suffered the biggest toll from the latest Ebola outbreak, with 466 deaths from 834 diagnosed cases according to the World Health Organization.
“We have been unable to control the spread due to continued denials, cultural burying practices, disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for the warnings by the government,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said on Tuesday.
Locals in West Point are complaining that traders are doubling the prices of their goods in the face of the ban on movement in and out of the slum.
“A bag of coal which was sold for 350 Liberian dollars ($4.5) is now sold for $10, while a small bag of rice has gone from $18 to $36,” resident Richard Kieh told a local radio station.