Sep 19 2014

A Critical Look at the Militarized Response to Ebola in West Africa

Feature Stories | Published 19 Sep 2014, 10:12 am | Comments Off on A Critical Look at the Militarized Response to Ebola in West Africa -

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Panic has set in among people living in West Africa as Ebola continues to spiral out of control. The current death toll stands at over 2,600 and is doubling every month. The entire country of Sierra Leone is on a three day lockdown to stop the spread of the deadly virus. Twenty one thousand soldiers and police are enforcing a curfew while health workers are going door to door to identify new cases.

While governments take desperate measures to stop the spread of the virus, aid groups like Human Rights Watch are criticizing restrictive quarantine and curfew measures which, rather than being effective, are instead leading to riots and civil unrest. A deep mistrust of medical personnel and doctors has led to the killing of 7 Ebola aid workers by villagers in a remote area of Guinea.

President Obama has called Ebola in West Africa “a potential threat to global security…” and is sending in 3,000 US ground troops to a command center in the hardest hit country of Liberia. The Department of Defense has vowed to train up to 500 health care workers every week, and also build 17 treatment centers.

Obama likened the US mission as similar to the one in Haiti following its 2010 earthquake and the Pentagon has said that it will maintain ground troops in the area for up to 6 months. Aid groups and the WHO are praising the Obama Administration’s decision citing a serious lack of trained people to deal with the crisis. Doctors Without Borders turned down $2.5 million from the Australian Government saying that what is more needed than funds is medical personnel and equipment. Some critics however are questioning whether the US will also play a role in maintaining security.

GUEST: Emira Woods, Director of Social Impact at Thoughtworks, and former Co-Director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. She is an expert on U.S. foreign policy with a special emphasis on Africa

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