The Hardest Labor, Clearing Ebola's Dead In Liberia

Meet the Burial Boys of Monrovia, whose role is no less important than medical staff in trying to stop the disease from spreading further.

MONROVIA During the day, Kollie Nyilah says his work collecting the dead keeps him from losing his mind. Sitting in the truck on the way to homes of reported Ebola victims, Nyilah is surrounded by people he calls his brothers. Three drivers, four porters and two men — the sprayers — who will disinfect the areas where the dead are found with chlorine solution.

Like him, they are all body collectors. They're doing what they've done every day dozens of times in the past weeks, starting with putting on the white protective clothing that Nyilah regularly curses because of the heat. It covers every single pore and keeps away the Ebola virus, but never the sun. They gather up the bodies and take them in special sacks to the crematorium. Every handhold is practiced. This is the daily choreography of death.

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In Liberia, The Good Faith And Bad Politics Of Ebola

Even as President Sirleaf is criticized by some, one opposition parliament member has decided to donate his own time and money to work directly with those affected by the outbreak.

MONROVIA — Legislator Saah Joseph is an exception. First of all, this 38-year-old opposition party member refuses to join the growing ranks of his political allies criticizing the way Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is confronting the deadly Ebola epidemic, which has hit this country hardest.

Second, this parliament member is on the ground every day fighting against the deadly virus at a time when several government ministers have simply fled the country to escape the epidemic that has already killed more than 2,400 Liberians.

"Ebola is a national issue, not a political one," says Joseph, who represents the 13th district of Montserrado (a county that includes the capital, Monrovia). He is a member of the Congress for Democratic Change, the opposition party founded by former soccer player and former presidential candidate George Weah.

Joseph has purchased three second-hand ambulances imported from the U.S. for Ebola patients to be driven to hospitals. That means he actually doubled the number of vehicles that health authorities in Monrovia had at their disposal. Before the crisis, he also created a free school for the poorest families and former child soldiers. "I did all that on my MP salary," he says. "The war had destroyed everything."

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Jihad And Ebola, A Double Threat To The African Miracle

-Analysis-

PARIS — A decade after development began in earnest on the "continent of lions" — the result of vast riches in raw materials, and of Africa embracing globalization — the countries from the northern sub-Saharan Sahel region and large parts of central Africa are facing a double threat.

Over the past few weeks, panic over Ebola has replaced months of indifference and carelessness. At the same time, the spectacular ISIS advances in Iraq have shed a worrying light on the violence of armed Islamist groups in Africa.

What does this double crisis in Africa tell us? First of all, the arc of current health and security problems covers weak states. The threats are hitting hardest those that are struggling to face the rebellions and those — led by Liberia and Sierra Leone — in which authorities lack resources and the ability to organize a minimal quarantine to slow the spread of the virus.

The strong economic growth of Liberia and Sierra Leone over the last few years hasn't been enough for the countries to make up for decades of underdevelopment — not just in health care, but also in education, an essential factor in the evolution of cultural habits and social behaviors. Because it is wealthier and more organized, Senegal has fared much better.

But the dramatic events in these regions are telling us something else too, namely that "it's ridiculous to consider Africa as a single country. Would we say that of Europe?" asks Thierry Vircoulon, director of the Central Africa project at the International Crisis Group. There is a world of difference between the isolated countries of the Sahel or Central African Republic, and dynamic countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia or Zambia.

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Liberia
Christophe Châtelot

Coalition Of Inaction: Outrage On The Ebola Front Line In Liberia

MONROVIA— "Welcome to hell." There is no cynicism and no irony in the voice of the young French volunteer from Médecins sans frontières (Doctors without Borders). The deep rings of fatigue under his eyes tell the same tale.

This "hell" is Elwa in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. Elwa is the largest treatment center ever set up by the French NGO to fight an epidemic, a camp of big white tents where its staff is trying desperately to fight Ebola, the terribly contagious virus that causes often fatal hemorrhagic fevers and has already killed more than 2,000 people in west Africa, over half of them in Liberia.

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