Fighting deadly Ebola in Guinea

The world’s deadliest outbreak of the Ebola virus has so far killed more than 670 people across West Africa. BBC News travelled to Guinea to meet some of those involved in the fight against the outbreak which, health experts say, will continue into next year.

Guinean Ebola Health worker Adele Millimouno

Adele Millimouno, Health worker
Adele Millimouno, Health worker

« At the beginning with all the rumours that were flying about we were very much afraid, but now we have adapted to the situation. We are working for our own community and we are working to save our community.
Now I feel very proud. By our work, our contribution, there are people who have walked out of this hospital cured — between 30 and 40 people.
At the beginning my family was very worried about me, given the risks in working in this kind of a place, but I always assured them that we were well protected.
In this emergency Ebola centre I have learned a lot of things, for example how to diagnose, and how to treat the patient and how to know the difference between a suspected case and a real case.
Lots of people died in front of me. It was a very difficult time for me especially when young children died. Sometimes I went outside and cried.
Some people before they die, we hold their hands, we touch their heads, we sit by them for a little while. »

Scientist Andrew Bosworth, from Public Health England

Andrew Bosworth, scientist
Andrew Bosworth, scientist

« At the beginning of the outbreak there were a lot more patients around — the sample numbers being seen by the lab were quite high, and a lot of those were positive.
Some days we see around 15 samples. We are still seeing positives, but increasingly we are seeing negatives here.
When you see a negative case from a patient that was previously positive then it’s a bit of a celebration because you know that that person is feeling a lot better and might even be released soon. Sometimes you see patients being brought in that are very young and they are testing positive and that’s very sad.
For the Ebola virus the fear element is the thing which is causing problems in the community and in the recruitment of health staff to help with the outbreak itself.
Ultimately it is spread in a very specific manner, by close contact with patient fluids, blood and at the end stages when the body increases secretions of saliva and sweat. Having that in your head whilst you are dealing with these samples is obviously very important because the risk can be mitigated through very simple but carefully prepared measures. »

Preparing to carry Ebola's latest victim
Preparing to carry Ebola’s latest victim

Red Cross co-ordinator: Mathew Schraeder

Mathew Schraeder, Red Cross co-ordinator
Mathew Schraeder, Red Cross co-ordinator

« When I first arrived on the ground in Gueckedou people were not willing to allow access to humanitarian workers to come in and deal with cases or allow contact tracing.
It’s been steadily declining since then in terms of numbers — there’s the odd small spike, but the main issue we have been facing over the last weeks has been reticent villages still not willing to allow us access.
So we have been making strong efforts to do a lot of communication, a lot of sensitisation.
There is a level of frustration in Guinea that I haven’t experienced in a long long time — not just reticent populations; it’s a lack of co-ordination.
We can deal with cholera outbreaks all over the world. Ebola is a big scary monster and yet we are not quite sure how to quite deal with it. »

Guinean children
Guinean children

Sylvain Landry Faye, anthropologist

Sylvain Landry Faye, anthropologist
Sylvain Landry Faye, anthropologist

« I investigate first the rumours, perceptions and attitudes of communities relating to Ebola fever in order to help the communication team. I also help the medical team interact with communities in the villages to break down barriers.
People are very very afraid, because they have never heard of Ebola before.

We have many rumours, for example, that the fever was disseminated by [Guinea’s] President Alpha Conde because he is from another ethnic group.

The villages are in remote areas where there is little access to news and the level of education is not high.
We have changed our approach in order to allay their fears. The medical team used go first to pick up patients; now they wait for us.
We use community leaders and community healers as well.
It has changed — they now are the first to call us, we tend to be in villages because they want us to be there, because the approach is different. »

BBC Africa

Conakry : Vingt-quatre morts à un concert

La bousculade a eu lieu lors d’un concert organisé sur la plage Rogbané, à Taouyah, près de Conakry. Au moins 24 personnes sont mortes.

Un concert organisé sur la plage Rogbané, à Taouyah, près de Conakry, a tourné au drame. Au moins 24 personnes sont mortes à la suite d’une bousculade. Un dizaine de blessés est également à décompter selon une source à la gendarmerie nationale.

Le concert était organisé au lendemain de la fête de l’Aïd, célébrée lundi en Guinée, pour marquer la fin du ramadan. Au moins 24 corps en provenance de cette plage – dont ceux de 13 filles – ont été déposés par des secouristes et des agents de sécurité à la morgue du Centre hospitalier universitaire (CHU) de Donka, ont indiqué des sources hospitalières.

“Nous avons pour le moment 24 corps à la morgue de l’hôpital Donka et des dizaines de blessés admis en urgence dans plusieurs centres de santé (de Conakry) suite à cette bousculade meurtrière. Pour le moment, je ne peux pas vous en dire plus”, a de son côté affirmé la source à la gendarmerie.

“C’est avec consternation et une vive émotion que le gouvernement a appris le drame tragique survenu (…) suite à des mouvements de foule lors d’un événement culturel organisé” dans la commune de Ratoma, a déclaré la présidence dans un communiqué diffusé dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi.
La déclaration a déploré “mort d’hommes et plusieurs blessés” mais sans préciser de bilan, en indiquant que les services de santé s’activaient dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi “pour porter secours aux blessés”.

En raison du drame, “une semaine de deuil national est décrétée à partir de ce jour (mardi)”, selon le communiqué.
En outre, “le Directeur général de l’Agence guinéenne de spectacles est suspendu de ses fonctions”, une enquête, confiée au procureur de la République de Dixinn (Conakry), a été ouverte “pour situer les responsabilités”.

Aucune explication n’était immédiatement disponible sur ce qui a pu être à l’origine du mouvement de foule. La bousculade s’est produite alors qu’une foule nombreuse était rassemblée pour suivre le concert ayant pour tête d’affiche le groupe de rap Instinct Killers, très populaire dans le pays, d’après diverses sources.
Plusieurs autres groupes et artistes de musiques urbaines devaient aussi se produire durant la soirée.

Selon les annonces publicitaires de l’évènement, le concert était organisé par Meurs Libre Prod, une société guinéenne spécialisée dans l’évènementiel et la production musicale.
Aucun des responsables de cette structure n’avait pu être joint dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi.

AFP / Jeune Afrique

Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

Michelle Obama: “Believe me, the blood of Africa runs through my veins.”

Michelle Obama on Wednesday, July 30, praised the efforts that African leaders have made in improving educational opportunities for girls, but she emphasized that barriers remained and pledged American support in removing them.

“Let’s be very clear: In many countries in Africa, women have made tremendous strides,” Mrs. Obama said in addressing the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders summit meeting here.
But she said that 30 million of the girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa were not attending school, and that too many of them were forced into marriage before even hitting puberty. Genital mutilation of girls is still common in some areas, she said, and rapists and human traffickers often escape prosecution. But she highlighted some of the success stories. In Rwanda, she said, more than half of the legislators are women — “which, by the way,” she said, “is more than double the percentage of women in the U.S. Congress.”
Still, she said: “I don’t think it’s really productive to talk about issues like girls’ education unless we’re willing to have a much bigger, bolder conversation about how women are viewed and treated in the world today. And we need to be having this conversation on every continent and in every country on this planet. And that’s what I want to do today with all of you, because so many of you are already leading the charge for progress in Africa.”
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, and the meeting on Wednesday served as a lead-in to the president’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which begins on Monday.
Mrs. Obama’s speech was her second foreign policy endeavor in recent months. In May, she used her Twitter account and the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls to focus attention on the kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram terrorists.
“This conversation is deeply personal to me,” Mrs. Obama said on Wednesday. “The roots of my family tree are in Africa. As you know, my husband’s father was born and raised in Kenya, and members of our extended family still live there.”
She noted that many members of the audience — some of them half her age — had founded businesses and nongovernmental organizations to champion the cause of women and girls throughout the continent. She pointed to one effort to educate women in microcredit and accounting, and another involving a Miss Education pageant to inspire girls to pursue higher education.
“We are really focusing on education broadly in the United States and girls’ education internationally,” she said. “This isn’t just something that I care about now in my role as first lady. This is an issue that we’re going to have to continue to work on as I take my last breath.”
Mrs. Obama’s appearance onstage was greeted by cheers and high-fives, and even an “amen” or two.

Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

On July 28, 2014, in front of 500 exceptional young leaders, President Obama announced that the United States intends to double the number of annual participants in the Mandela Washington Fellowship to 1000 by the summer of 2016.

President Obama renames the Class of 2014 Washington Fellowship in honor of Mandela

Barack Obama also announced the renaming of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in honor of Nelson Mandela. The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and embodies President Obama’s commitment to invest in the future of Africa.  The first class of Mandela Washington Fellows arrived in June 2014 for six weeks of intensive executive leadership training, networking, and skills building, followed by a Presidential Summit in Washington, DC.  Through this initiative, young African leaders are gaining the skills and connections they need to accelerate their own career trajectories and contribute more robustly to strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security in Africa.

Selected from nearly 50,000 applications, the 500 Mandela Washington Fellows represent the extraordinary promise of an emerging generation of entrepreneurs, activists, and public officials.  Mandela Washington Fellows are between 25 and 35 years old; have proven track records of leadership in a public, private, or civic organization; and demonstrate a strong commitment to contributing their skills and talents to building and serving their communities.  The first class of Fellows represents all 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and includes equal numbers of men and women.  Despite their youth, more than 75 percent of Fellows already hold a mid-level or executive position, and 48 percent have a graduate degree.  Twenty-five percent of Fellows currently work in a non-governmental institution and 39 percent of them operate their own business. Nearly all Fellows are the first in their families to visit the United States.

Magnifique ! Rouguy Diallo

Rouguy Diallo au triple saut
Rouguy Diallo remporte le triple saut au championnat du monde juniors d’athlétisme à Eugene, Oregon, 27 juillet 2014

Magnifique ! Rouguy Diallo,

Elle a été sacrée cette nuit à Eugene (Oregon, USA) championne du monde juniors du triple saut avec 14,44 m (+3.3) !
Rouguy est la quatrième championne du monde juniors française de l’histoire. Elle établit également les nouveaux records de France Juniors et Espoirs de la discipline avec 14,20 m (+1.8), Elle les a réalisés au quatrième essai !
Quelle finale !

De nationalité française, Rouguy est née le 5 février 1995 à Nice, de parents originaires de Labé (Guinée). Elle est spécialiste du triple saut.

Rouguy Diallo
Rouguy Diallo

Elle devient championne de France cadette du saut en longueur et du triple saut en 2012. L’année suivante, elle se classe 12e des championnats d’Europe juniors.

En 2014, à Argentan, Rouguy Diallo établit un nouveau record de France junior du triple saut avec 13,74 m. Elle participe fin juillet aux championnats du monde juniors 2014 d’Eugene, aux États-Unis. Elle y remporte la médaille d’or en établissant la marque de 14,44 m (vent de +3,3 m/s supérieur à la limite autorisée) 1.
Elle établit un nouveau record de France junior avec 14,20 m et devient la quatrième athlète française féminine à remporter un titre mondial junior après Sylviane Félix, Muriel Hurtis et Alexandra Tavernier.

Frenchman Cilins gets two years

Frenchman Cilins gets two years in U.S. prison for role in Guinea mine scandal

A former adviser to mining giant BSG Resources was sentenced in New York federal court on Friday to two years in prison for obstructing a criminal probe in connection with a bribery investigation in Guinea.

Frederic Cilins, a French national, pleaded guilty in March to one count of obstruction and admitted attempting to bribe Mamadie Toure, a widow of former Guinea President Lansana Conte, so she would leave the United States to avoid questioning by federal authorities.

Cilins was charged as part of a U.S. probe into potentially illegal payments made to Guinean officials to secure rights to half of one of the world’s largest untapped iron ore deposits for BSG Resources (BSGR), the mining arm of Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz’s conglomerate.

BSGR has denied any wrongdoing.

The investigation eventually prompted Guinean officials to strip the concessions from BSGR and its partner, Brazilian iron ore mining company Vale SA, after a government-appointed committee accused BSGR of obtaining them through corrupt means.

BSGR has accused officials of improperly trying to wrest away its rights to the northern half of the Simandou mine. The company is seeking arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Developing Simandou would offer an enormous boost to the Guinean economy, but the project has suffered delays because of disputes over the mining rights.

Last month, Guinea’s national assembly ratified an investment framework agreement with global miner Rio Tinto, its Chinese partner Chinalco and International Finance Corporation to raise nearly $20 billion to revive the project. First production from Rio and Chinalco’s southern half of Simandou, however, is at least four years away.

The government is also planning to open a new auction to grant the rights stripped from BSGR and Vale for the northern part of the deposit. Guinean officials have said Vale did nothing wrong and encouraged the company to bid again.

At Friday’s hearing, Cilins apologized to U.S. District Judge William Pauley for his actions and to his family for causing them pain.

Pauley said Cilins’ crime “strikes at the very foundation of the sound administration of justice,” but declined to impose a sentence of more than three years, as prosecutors had requested.

Cilins, 51, was accused of offering to pay for Toure’s flight to leave the United States to avoid answering federal investigators’ questions. Unbeknownst to Cilins, Toure was working as an informant for the U.S. government.

In a taped phone conversation, Cilins told Toure: “That has to be destroyed very urgently,” referring to documents tied to the alleged payments, prosecutors said.

The case is U.S. v. Cilins, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 13-315.

Joseph Ax
Gunna Dickson
Reuters