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Red Cross denounces attacks on Ebola teams in Guinea

12 february 2015, 10:53
0
©Reuters/Luc Gnago
©Reuters/Luc Gnago

 The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement on Wednesday denounced a series of violent attacks on its volunteers battling the deadly Ebola epidemic in Guinea, AFP reports.

The world's largest humanitarian network said the latest case involved two burial workers who were beaten up on Sunday by a mob in the western town of Forecariah.

It "noted with regret the violence against teams of Red Cross volunteers involved in the fight against the Ebola epidemic."

The organisation launched an "urgent appeal" to Guineans to "refrain from attacking the volunteers of the Red Cross, and allow them to do their job and save lives safely".

Guinea and its neighbours Sierra Leone and Liberia have registered more than 9,000 deaths since the Ebola epidemic flared up in December 2013.

Mobs have sporadically attacked health workers in all three countries after being taken in by a variety of conspiracy theories, often characterising the outbreak as a plot by the West to murder Africans and harvest their organs.

Guinea, which has seen the worst of the bloodshed, has put 58 people on trial over an attack in January on Ebola outreach workers by a mob wielding machetes near Forecariah.

The defendants, accused of wounding several government workers and staff from the global medical aid agency Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), have been in the dock since Monday last week.

Last September eight members of an outreach team in the southeastern town of Womey were killed by protesters who denied the existence of Ebola and denounced a "white conspiracy".

  Hysteria 

In a further sign of the hysteria surrounding Ebola, panic spread through schools in the capital Conakry on Wednesday over false rumours that a Red Cross team was coming to take away infected students.

Schools in the central Kaloum neighbourhood emptied as parents arrived to collect their children, with many students crying and calling for help, according to an AFP correspondent at the scene.

"The rumour is that a team of the Red Cross are coming to our school to find an Ebola patient -- that's why all the children ran out," a teacher told AFP.

The panic followed similar incidents in other parts of the capital on Tuesday, witnesses told AFP.

An education official told AFP on condition of anonymity that students wanting time off were behind the scare.

He said they had created alarm by "blowing whistles in the vicinity of schools" -- common code among students that a disinfection team is on its way to spray the school.

There is a widespread misapprehension among Guinean students and parents that humanitarian workers who spray schools with disinfectant are deliberately spreading the virus.

"We were in class around midday. Our parents forced the gates to the playground to come and pick us up because they learned that the Red Cross was coming to spray the schools," said a primary school student.

"Far from being an action that spreads the disease, spraying conducted by teams from the Red Cross destroys the virus," the organisation said.


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