23 August 2014

Liberia: West Point Riot - Bullet Removed From Another Boy Stomach

Photo: FrontPageAfrica
Liberian security forces patrol the streets after clashes with protesters as they enforce the quarantine of Monrovia's heavily populated district of West Point.

Monrovia — A second boy from the quarantined community of West Point had a bullet removed from his stomach at the S.D Cooper Clinic in Monrovia on Friday after his family with the help of the commissioner and health workers rushed him to hospital. The boy identified as Benny-Boy sustained a bullet hole in the stomach during the riot in West Point on Wednesday according to family sources.

The boy's family confirmed that a bullet was removed from his belly. His uncle Mr. Arthur Gurley said the boy sustained the injuries during Wednesday's riots and that the boy's condition is not yet stable.

"Well, according to reports from the hospital, he is in critical condition. They did the operation and took a bullet from inside his stomach," said Gurley via a mobile phone interview with FrontPageAfrica. He said the wounded boy was earlier taken to the Redemption hospital and discharged, but he continued to bleed from his wound, which led them to take him back to a health facility.

"When the incident occurred, they took him to the checkpoint, but the officers could not permit him to be taken to hospital. But later they took him to the Redemption hospital and after treatment at the Redemption hospital, they brought him back home," said Gurley.

"But they never knew that the bullet was inside him. But when they brought him home his condition began to worsen and the commissioner took him to the S. D. Cooper clinic; that's where the operation was done. He's under critical condition at the S.D. Cooper clinic on 12th street." Riots broke out in West Point on Wednesday after the police backed by the army had gone in to evacuate the commissioner and her family.

Miatta Flowers called for help after angry residents had surrounded her house in anger when they noticed she was trying to flee the area. The residents threw stones at the security forces as they escorted Flowers and her family out of he densely populated area. The stoning intensified and the army fired live shots.

One 15-year-old boy died on Wednesday evening from apparent gunshot wound. But authorities in Monrovia say there was no shot fired at rioting West Pointers. Defense minister Brownie Samukai said the wound was a superficial one caused by a barbed wire that has been placed in the buffer zone and that the boy had tripped and fell over it with a wheel he was pushing.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered the quarantining of West Point in Monrovia and Dolo Town in Margibi under full security watch meaning there will be no movements in and out of those areas.

The President said Liberia has been unable to control the spread of the disease due to continued denials, cultural burying practices, disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for the warnings by the Government. The military maintains that there was no shot fired at the demonstrators in the West Point area during the riots.

"Once again, I want to make it very clear, that the Armed Forces of Liberia have not been issued any orders to shoot to kill anybody out there at this point in time," said Defense Minister Brownie Samukai immediately following the riots on Wednesday.

"Those soldiers are under orders from this point, no decision on the use of those weapons against any person can be issued without any clear instructions from the commander in chief to the minister of defense and through the chain of command of the Armed forces of Liberia."

The head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia Ms. Karen Landgren, said during a news conference on Friday said President Sirleaf has vowed that security force would not use such deadly force again. She said the deadly Ebola outbreak is having negative repercussions for Liberia.

"We've seen the potential for security to deteriorate, even in the context of health efforts. The government is committed to applying the right measures together with communities, especially Ebola affected communities who need support, who need understanding and who need basic services," said Ms. Landgren.

"And UNMIL welcomes the President's statement earlier today that under no circumstances would lethal force be used again. This epidemic is unprecedented, not only for Liberia but for the world. It's extraordinary. Liberia's many partners are determined to find an extraordinary response to meet these needs."

Long-haul in Ebola outbreak

A visiting United Nations delegation on the Ebola outbreak in Liberia led by Dr. David Nabarro, the newly appointed Senior United Nations Systems Coordinator for Ebola has predicted a long haul in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus that has led to 1,082 cases and 624 deaths in Liberia.

The UN high-level delegation held meetings with government officials, NGOs and other partners to review and fill the gaps in the ongoing Ebola response and at a news conference announced the scaling up of support to fight the disease.

"The purpose is to really increase the power of the response so that not only is virus brought under control, and its transmission stopped, but also that people benefit, that health services recover, that the economy gets back on track, that education and other services are also functioning again," said Dr. Nabarro.

"That food security is there now and in the future and also that the security and stability of the nation, is protected. In order to do that, we are looking at ways, to radically scale up the support provided by the UN family. We have to do that in a way that is quick and at the same time super effective."

WHO assistant Director-General for health security Dr. Keiji Fukuda said the countries affected by the outbreak can expect to see it under control in approximately six to nine months.

"That's really what we are trying to achieve. I do not want to sugar coat the situation. This is not something that is going to turn around overnight," he said.

"It is not going to be easy. We expect several months of very hard work. We expect several months of really struggling against this outbreak. But again we expect to turn it around."

The UN has termed the outbreak as the largest and most complex outbreak of Ebola in history. It is still unclear whether the government will launch an investigation into Wednesday's shooting in West Point.

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