FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

23 August 2014

Liberia: Behind Quarantine Line - Families Take Food to Hungry W. Pointers

Monrovia — There were no pushing and pulling this time, no condemnation or claims of "rotten rice" from hungry and besieged West Point residents. What many witnessed Saturday was a more organized queue of West Point residents, awaiting their turn to get much-needed food aid.

Until Saturday, families and friends across the quarantine zone had been struggling to get food to the relatives as state security restricted movement in the area which, along with Dolo's Town had been declared a quarantine zone in the aftermath of a violent turn earlier during the week.

Violence struck the area Wednesday when residents set-off a revolt, which was struck down by the military officials, following a controversial government policy that seals-off the entire area in an effort to curb further spread of the deadly Ebola virus. The riots began when a commissioner was stopped from leaving the district with her family, while the rest of the residents told not to leave.

On Saturday, families and friends queue up alongside a government and United Nations distribution team to provide additional food to what the government is providing.

Some loved ones could be seen giving out potato greens, charcoal, oil, rice and other ingredients to their relatives behind the quarantine line. Girish Kurseja, an Indian businessman took three bags of rice and some water to three of his employees currently being quarantined in the community.

Kuseja told FrontPageAfrica that his employees had called to inform him that the food they are receiving are not enough to carry them through the 21-day incubation period. Based on that, he says, he decided to bring them some food to augment the government's effort. He explained that the quarantined communities should not feel that they are being punished but should see it as efforts to help save them from the deadly Ebola Virus.

"Three of my workers, they stay in West Point and because of the government' measure to quarantine West Point for 21 days, and there was no sufficient food and water in the house, so they call me to tell me and I told them not to worry I will find time to come see them."

"So I brought three bags of rice and water to them" says Kurseja. "West Point people should be appreciative that the government is prioritizing them so they should be privileged to be quarantined to avoid Ebola spreading.

The businessman said he was initially reluctant to make the trek to aid his employees because of a lot of rumors circulating that people are not allowed to see or bring anything to anybody.

Nevertheless, he says, he finally decided on Saturday to come and try if he could have access. The businessman says the security officers were very helpful and cooperative. "By the grace of God all the officers were very cooperative."

He then urged Liberians to cooperate with the quarantine measures being undertaken by the Liberian government because it is in the best interest of the country. "They should not panic, there are enough food supply and water, they just need to be patient."

Most of the residents interviewed by FrontPageAfrica said they were caught by surprise. As a result, they did not have enough time to purchase food and other basic needs. In the process, some say, even people who do not live in the community were trapped and had no means of getting home to their family after the area became a quarantine zone.

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