Sierra Leone Vice President Goes Into Hiding

Sierra Leone’s Vice President, Samuel Sam-Sumana

Vice President of Sierra Leone, Samuel Sam-Sumana, has gone into hiding as he seeks political haven at the US embassy in Freetown, the country’s capital.

According to reports, Vice President Sam-Sumana and his wife fled their home after they got wind that soldiers were coming to besiege it.

Mr Sam-Sumana was expelled from the ruling party, two weeks ago for allegedly orchestrating political violence, trying to form a new party and falsifying academic credentials, claims he vehemently denied.

Reports said relations between Sierra Leone President, Ernest Bai-Koroma and his Vice, Mr Sam-Sumana had gone sour for some time.

While still in hiding, the Vice President is seeking political asylum at the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, but the U.S. Embassy has not reacted to the development.

According to him two weeks ago, he said he had chosen to be quarantined for 21 days to “lead by example” in the battle against Ebola, after one of his bodyguards died of the Ebola virus.

More than 3,500 have died as a result of Ebola virus cases in Sierra Leone, which along with Guinea and Liberia has experienced the huge majority of deaths from the disease.

Ebola Crisis: Sierra Leone Bans Christmas Celebrations

Sierra LeoneSierra Leone has banned public celebrations over Christmas and the New Year, because of the Ebola crisis.

Soldiers are to be deployed on the streets throughout the festive period to keep people indoors.

The Minister of Defence, who heads the government’s Ebola Response Unit, Palo Conteh, made the declaration on Friday.

He said that there would be “no Christmas and New Year celebrations this year. We will ensure that everybody remains at home to reflect on Ebola.

“Military personnel will be on the streets at Christmas and the New Year to stop any street celebrations.”

President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, has also told traditional leaders to stop traditional practices as part of efforts to end Ebola in the country.

The President added that despite international aid, it seemed “as if the cases are increasing”, especially in north-western areas such as Port Loko and the Bombali region.

World Bank Fast Tracks Ebola Aid As Sierra Leone Calls For Help

EbolaThe World Bank said on Wednesday it would speed up delivery of hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance to fight Ebola in West Africa, as Sierra Leone appealed for help in plugging gaps in its response.

On a visit to Sierra Leone, where the epidemic is spreading fastest, World Bank, President Jim Yong Kim, said the lender would accelerate disbursement of $162 million in emergency support to ensure the money was delivered in two years instead of three.

To help kick-start Sierra Leone’s economy, Kim said the bank would make available an additional $170 million over the next two years, mostly to strengthen infrastructure and agriculture.

“We’re accelerating our support to Sierra Leone,” Kim said in Freetown, during a tour of Ebola-affected countries in the region.

The worst known outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever on record has killed more than 6,070 people from 17,145 cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

Despite Britain deploying hundreds of troops to its former colony, Sierra Leone is lagging behind Guinea and Liberia in its Ebola response, reporting 537 new cases in the week to November 30.

The WHO said uncertainty about data prevented firm conclusions about progress in eradicating the disease.

Sierra Leone President, Ernest Bai Koroma, said his country still had less than a third of the 1,500 beds it required and needed an additional four laboratories.

“While we do appreciate the increased presence, I must say that there is still the need for us to address the gaps that still exist in some areas of our intervention,” he said.

In a subsequent stop-off in Guinea, Kim said that a $153 million aid package to that country would also be delivered in two years, instead of the planned three.

Medical charity, Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said in a report this week that one of the shortcomings in the Ebola response is the failure to deploy trained medical personnel, resulting in high rates of infection among local staff.

In a move that could relieve staffing shortages, 250 medical volunteers from the African Union are prepared to be deployed on Thursday from Nigeria to the worst affected countries.

The World Bank on Tuesday revealed that the epidemic would cost more than $2 billion across the region, causing once-booming economies to slow down or shrink.

Ebola-Hit States Plead For More Help, WHO Rebuked For Slow Response

Ebola in scotlandA Medical Charity and two West African countries fighting the world’s worst Ebola epidemic have criticized the World Health Organization (WHO) for its slow response, saying more action was needed to save victims threatened by the disease and hunger.

With the death toll over 1,000 and still climbing, the United Nation’s Health Agency is facing questions over whether it moved quickly enough to declare the months-old outbreak a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”, which it did on Aug 8.

Medical Charity MSF (Doctors Without Borders), which has been one of the most active groups in fighting the outbreak, said its spread had created a “wartime” situation in the worst-affected states of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Nigeria is also facing a smaller separate outbreak.

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma said his nation’s only two treatment centers were “overwhelmed”.
In neighboring Liberia, Information Minister Lewis Brown said Ebola-affected rural areas quarantined by troops faced serious food shortages.

“We need a more robust response to the nature of the disease and the way it is affecting us,” Koroma said in Freetown, adding he had delivered this message to the WHO, which is coordinating international efforts to try to control the outbreak.

The WHO said on Friday the death toll from this epidemic, first declared in Guinea in March, had risen to 1,145, as 76 new deaths were reported in the two days to Aug. 13 in the four nations affected so far.

“If our people are dying, the response should be an extraordinary response because it is an extraordinary situation,” Koroma told a news conference, saying his country needed more Ebola treatment centers and medics to staff them.

“Time is of the essence,” he added, saying he had seen the world respond to major humanitarian crises, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and West Africa needed similar help.

Fear of the virus, which causes fever, vomiting in its advanced form, severe hemorrhaging and organ failure, is curbing business in Africa and threatening to taint the continent’s image as a rising economic star.

In Liberia, which like neighbors Sierra Leone and Guinea have deployed troops to cordon off a tri-border zone which has the highest concentration of Ebola cases, Brown said his country also needed more health personnel and aid.