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Hunger and frustration at Ebola ground zero

Hunger and frustration grow at Ebola ground zero in Meliandou,  Gueckedou préfecture,  in the Forest region of Guinea. A charred kapok tree and around a dozen graves scattered amongst the mud brick houses of Meliandou are painful reminders of the toll Ebola has taken on this village in southeast Guinea.

Scientists traced the source of the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola to two-year-old Emile Ouamouno, who they believe contracted the disease while playing near the tree, home to hundreds of bats that may have been hosting the deadly virus.

The boy’s father, Etienne Ouamouno, said Emile fell ill in December 2013, and infected his sister and mother who was eight months pregnant at the time. Over a year later, having lost all his immediate family, Etienne Ouamouno has difficulty in finding words to describe his grief.

For now, his body language does the talking.

Sitting at the foot of the kapok tree, which has since been set alight by the villagers to smoke out all the bats, Ouamouno nervously lights up a cigarette and takes a number of short drags in quick succession before flicking off the ash.

Etienne Ouamouno, father of Ebola patient zero, poses for a picture in Meliandou February 4, 2015. (Reuters/Misha Hussain)
Etienne Ouamouno, father of Ebola patient zero, poses for a picture in Meliandou February 4, 2015. (Reuters/Misha Hussain)

There is a long, uncomfortable silence as he contemplates the significance of this spot. Almost 24,000 people mainly in hardest-hit Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, have been infected and some 9,700 have died from Ebola as a result of the chain of transmission that started here.

“It wasn’t Emile that started it,” Ouamouno finally says in Kissi, the local language. “Emile was too young to eat bats, and he was too small to be playing in the bush all on his own. He was always with his mother.”

No Income

For Ouamouno and thousands of others in the forest region of southeastern Guinea, once the breadbasket of the West African nation, the suffering has only deepened. Ebola has left them scared, frustrated and jobless.

“There’s food on the market, but not enough money to buy it. Around 100,000 people are out of work since the mining companies closed due to Ebola,” said Jean-Luc Siblot, emergency coordinator for the World Food Programme (WFP) in Guinea.

“Closures of borders with Ivory Coast, Liberia and Mali and the lack of willingness for food transporters to come into the region meant agricultural collectives were stuck with their products,” Siblot told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Jobs have dried up in 91 percent of the communities surveyed by WFP in the forest region. Farmers in other parts of the country say up to 50 percent of their crop has spoiled because they could not be sold across borders.

WFP estimates that up to 1 million people do not get three meals a day and many have to sell their assets to buy food. Ebola has made this worse.

Since September, WFP has distributed over 15,000 tonnes of food aid to around 550,000 people in the forest region, including the prefectures of Macenta, Gueckedou and Kissidougou, where the outbreak was the most ferocious.

A mother and her children make palm oil in Meliandou February 4, 2015. (Reuters/Misha Hussain)
A mother and her children make palm oil in Meliandou February 4, 2015. (Reuters/Misha Hussain)

Marshall Plan

In the dense undergrowth around Meliandou, children pick mushrooms for dinner while their mothers make palm oil in the village courtyard. But palm oil alone will not feed the family, nor will it sell for enough to put food on the table.

“What we need right now is agricultural support. We need more classrooms, a church, and health posts staffed with doctors and equipped with medicine,” said Ouamouno, who started to open up with the encouragement of the village chief.

Etienne Ouamouno, father of Ebola patient zero, stands by the kapok tree where scientists say his two-year-old son might have contracted Ebola from bats in Meliandou, Guinea, February 4, 2015. (Reuters/Misha Hussain)
Etienne Ouamouno, father of Ebola patient zero, stands by the kapok tree where scientists say his two-year-old son might have contracted Ebola from bats in Meliandou, Guinea, February 4, 2015. (Reuters/Misha Hussain)

In January, global aid agency Oxfam called for a multi-million dollar post-Ebola “Marshall Plan” to help Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia — similar to a U.S. aid program to help rebuild shattered European economies after World War Two.

The idea was revived on Tuesday as the leaders of the countries met international donors in Brussels to discuss their response to Ebola.

Back in Meliandou, villagers were skeptical of the government’s intentions ahead of presidential elections due later this year.

The government has never done anything for us in the past, so why would they change now,” said Ouamouno, reflecting the view of many in this largely anti-government region of the country.

Misha Hussain & Katie Nguyen
Thomson Reuters Foundation

Le Pacte de Bossou

Bibliography

Tetsurō Matsuzawa; Tatyana Humle; Yukimaru Sugiyama. The chimpanzees of Bossou and Nimba. Toyko ; New York : Springer, ©2011.
The book examines the unique contribution of the Bossou field site to our knowledge of chimpanzees, particularly the endangered West African subspecies. Coverage ranges from their socio-ecology to cognition, to their ability to use stone and perishable tools.

Kai, doyenne des chimpanzes
Kai, doyenne des chimpanzes

Tackling Ebola, One Broadcast at a Time

Health workers aren’t the only ones fighting Ebola — so are broadcast journalists, hip-hop singers, and imams.

Guéckédou, Guinea — Diallo Fatou Traoré stands at the entrance of a rural radio station, of which she is the director, and asks that everyone entering use a hand-washing station. In less tenuous times, such a request would be unfathomably rude. But here in Guinea’s southeastern Forestière region, the heart of the current Ebola epidemic, extreme caution has become the norm

Traoré and her team of 18 journalists, technicians, and on-air presenters are probably not the first people who come to mind when thinking about those on the front lines of the battle against Ebola, but each have been deeply engaged in fighting the spread of the disease. “We had seven cases and four dead at the start, and people did not believe in Ebola,” says Traoré, who recalls people calling into her station with personal theories and anecdotes. “We started interactive programming with a doctor answering questions and responding to phone calls, and the mentality changed.”

Across Guinea, it is ordinary citizens like Traoré who are fighting Ebola despite limited resources and no prior experience with the virus. Attention and praise are rightly given to the health workers risking their lives to treat the sick; across West Africa, 382 health workers had become infected and 216 had died as of Oct. 1, according to the World Health Organization. But countless other people from a range of backgrounds — journalists, religious leaders, artists — have been doing their own small part to combat the disease, even as national and international leaders have equivocated and global health organizations dithered.

In places like the Forestière region, many radio stations are educating their listeners about Ebola, devoting hours of original programming every day to the virus. Despite unreliable power sources and outdated equipment, these stations translate communiqués from the capital, Conakry, and from abroad into several local languages to target specific communities. Station budgets are pieced together from advertising and support from foreign donors that have come to see rural radio stations as the most effective means of disseminating information to populations that are largely illiterate and lack access to other forms of media.

Yet before they were a source of reliable information about Ebola, local journalists themselves underwent a learning process about the virus and how it is transmitted. In April, Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF) arranged to have an Ebola survivor appear on national radio, but the station would not allow him into the studio.

Eventually, the interview was conducted via telephone. Fast-forward six months, however, and Ebola survivors are regularly on air and in studio, just one indication of how attitudes toward the virus have changed among some members of the media.

“If you go to the hospital right away, you have a good chance of recovery, but if you hide your symptoms, the chances are much worse,” one survivor, a female medical student, told a nationwide audience from inside a studio in Conakry in mid-September. Fittingly, she signed off by encouraging her fellow Guineans not to stigmatize survivors.

Religious leaders such as El-Hadj Mamadou Saliou Camara have also used their influence to address the Ebola crisis. As the imam of the Grand Fayçal Mosque in Conakry, Camara is among the most important religious leaders in devotedly Muslim Guinea, and he has long advocated unity and reconciliation in a country heavily divided along ethno-political lines. His sermon during this weekend’s celebrations for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, or Tabaski as it is known in West Africa, touched on the need to overcome political differences in the fight against Ebola.
— What I would say to people [is that] when we have a disease like Ebola, the president and his government must stand up to fight against the disease, Camara said. If a [government] delegation arrives in a place to raise awareness, we must welcome them. Do not strike them or kill them,” he continued, in reference to recent attacks on health workers in Guinea and concerns that the crisis is becoming politicized.

Some private businesses, from pharmacies to mobile-phone companies, are also contributing to the fight against Ebola. At Pharmacie de La Paix in downtown Conakry, a steady stream of customers looks to purchase hand sanitizer. “We used to sell mostly to business owners who buy in bulk, but now individuals are buying it,” says Sako Ibrahima Sory, the pharmacy’s manager. “This is a chance to educate the public,” he adds, stressing that even if demand begins to outstrip supply, his pharmacy will forgo a chance for greater profits and keep prices the same.

Meanwhile, telecom giant Orange blasts text messages to its subscribers at least once a day that read, “Do you have Ebola? Prompt treatment in a health center can save you.”
Even Guinea’s musicians have taken to their studios to record songs about Ebola and authorize their free distribution. The airwaves boast everything from club bangers to ballads soaked in auto-tune devoted to Ebola, and were it not for the lyrics, they could easily be confused for party anthems and cheesy love songs.

One such example, “A Gesture for Life,” features an all-star lineup of some 20 musicians, including reggae stalwart Takana Zion, up-and-coming hip-hop duo G Force Sotigui, and songstress Khady Diop. Singing in multiple languages, the ensemble delivers basic health information about Ebola.

Taken together, the responses by average Guineans to Ebola add up to a less militarized approach than those pursued by its neighbors in Liberia and Sierra Leone, who have drawn criticism from public health experts for deploying their militaries to enforce quarantines and threatening to arrest those harboring infected persons. But appraising the efficacy of the response would be premature at this point. The virus is still spreading at an alarming rate, with more than 970 confirmed cases by the start of October. In the Forestière town of Macenta, health officials thought the outbreak was under control months ago, but dozens of new cases from surrounding villages that recently appeared in a span of only a few days have raised new questions about the extent to which people infected with Ebola may be hiding.

Propping up Guinea’s weak public health system, a complex undertaking that requires outside support, remains the most important and challenging component of ending the crisis. At the MSF site in Guéckédou, new cases are coming in daily. A staff of 300, including Guineans and foreigners, oversee a site that contains 110 beds. In late September, the site was treating 45 confirmed cases — a number that is expected to rise. All people entering the site’s grounds must wash their hands with chlorinated water and have their boots sprayed. Inside, a web of orange fencing creates a labyrinth of one-way lanes that regulate movement; the traffic flows are designed so that people with confirmed cases are always at a distance from those who are suspected of having Ebola, who are in turn kept at a distance from staff and visitors. Interacting with Ebola patients requires health workers to wear personal protective equipment (PPE): a hazmat suit, goggles, rubber gloves, and rubber boots. “You need PPE for everything,” says Caroline Scholtes, the MSF field coordinator in Guéckédou, who explains that all activities, from changing sheets to washing clothes to delivering food to patching up a hole in a tent, require staff members to put on PPE suits.

When an older woman confirmed to have Ebola arrives at the treatment center, she is greeted by a young foreign woman in full PPE, who sprays all of the newcomer’s belongings before placing them in a plastic bag. Then, a waiting game begins. The sick live with each other in an Ebola colony of sorts: sitting, chatting over meals and soft drinks, and praying that their immune systems are up to the task of defeating a virus that is claiming more than half of those it infects. Treatment consists largely of keeping patients hydrated, well fed, and on a steady diet of antibiotics to ward off other infections.

Back in Conakry, many businesses have taken to checking the temperature of all patrons, pointing a small thermometer that resembles a toy gun at their temples before they enter. Almost every building has a hand-washing station at its entrance, and billboards throughout the city urge people to text “115” if they think they have Ebola. Although a relative sense of calm pervades daily life in the capital, some doctors quietly fear that panic might be gradually setting in among their own ranks. “We are very worried,” says Hassan Bah, a professor who works at Ignace Deen hospital. “Doctors are very exposed. Unfortunately, they do not have the means to protect themselves — that’s the truth.”

The MSF site in Conakry is set up in the shadows of Donka hospital, Guinea’s main health facility, a dilapidated concrete structure built in 1959. On a day in late September, the MSF center is busy, with confirmed and suspected cases trickling in from areas previously thought to be unaffected from the epidemic. “Not good,” says one MSF employee. “Still new cases.”

A team of local doctors rushes to put on PPE suits as two new cases, both young children, arrive. Treating any incoming Ebola patient is complicated, but these particular cases are particularly challenging because the children will have to be separated from their mother, who has not tested positive for the virus. A few tents over, a woman who traveled some distance to accompany a sick relative is crying.

Thierno Sadou Diallo, a gynecologist, is on day 16 of isolation for Ebola — which, all things considered, is an encouraging sign. Thin and visibly weak, Diallo describes how he contracted Ebola while performing a Caesarean section on a woman who was later diagnosed with the virus. She would later die in the same isolation center.
Diallo praises the health workers helping him, including Marie-Claire Kolié, a doctor who comes by to greet him as he is speaking. They share a personal connection that predates the Ebola epidemic: Kolié had a very complicated pregnancy three years ago, and Diallo delivered her son.
“It makes me so proud and happy to help him,” says Kolié, who describes providing care for Diallo as “an honor.”

For Guineans, waiting for sufficient assistance, let alone a miracle, is not an option. And as the disease continues to spread throughout the country, countless men and women are coming together to combat Ebola.
“When I get out, I am going to take some time to recover,” Diallo says. “But I’ll go back to work as soon as I can.”

Peter Tinti
Foreign Policy

Guinea. The Toxic Politics of Ebola

In Guinea, the Ebola epidemic isn’t just killing people. It’s threatening to tear the country apart.

Guéckédou, Guinea — Thérèse Moundekeno was a pharmacy student in Conakry, Guinea’s coastal capital city, when she received a phone call in April advising her to do everything possible to come home to Guéckédou, a city deep in the country’s southeastern Forest Guinea region. It was the latest in a string of bad news for Moundekeno, whose sister and brother-in-law had died of a mysterious illness weeks earlier. Now her mother had fallen sick. By the time Moundekeno could leave school and make the daylong trip back to Guéckédou by public transport, her mother was dead.
When she arrived at the hospital, a doctor with the organization Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF) refused Moundekeno’s request to see her mother’s body. “He told me the same virus that killed your mother can kill you,” she recalls.

For her mother’s funeral, Moundekeno says she had little choice but to eschew local traditions and her religious beliefs, which would require her to clean and dress her mother’s body before burying it. It was an agonizing decision, made all the more painful when she saw her mother’s cadaver loaded into the hospital vehicle in a graceless body bag rather than vibrant traditional fabrics.
“When the vehicle arrived at the cemetery, everyone dispersed,” Moundekeno says, holding back tears. “Everyone.”

“Who is going to help me bury my mother?”

“Who is going to help me bury my mother?” she asked the few remaining onlookers. No one answered. The driver, an older man who wouldn’t normally be tasked with that type of labor, took pity on her and grabbed a shovel. Two nurses from the hospital also pitched in. “The way she was buried bothers me so much,” Moundekeno says, “but I could do nothing!”

“My mother was one of the first confirmed cases of Ebola,” she adds. “Before that, the disease that was killing everyone was not known.”
In just about any other time and just about any other place, Moundekeno’s story would be an exceptional one, but here in  Forest Guinea, where the Ebola outbreak began in March and has since spread to five countries, infecting more than 7,000 and killing more than 3,000, the outliers are those who have not lost a friend or loved one.

The unprecedented epidemic has the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta concerned that hundreds of thousands could die from the disease before the outbreak is brought under control. With borders closed, quarantines imposed, and West African economies left in shambles, there is also a growing fear that what began as a public health crisis is quickly morphing into a full-blown catastrophe for Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, countries already struggling with poverty, the ravages of past civil wars, and other enormous development challenges. In the case of Guinea specifically, recent attacks targeting health workers have sent shock waves through the country, reinforcing fears that the longer the Ebola crisis continues, the greater the possibility that it could tear apart a social fabric delicately woven along ethno-political lines.

To the untrained eye, Guéckédou might seem like a remote, inaccessible city in Guinea’s interior. The decrepit roads that lead to  Forest Guinea mean it can take hours for a car to travel just 100 kilometers on certain stretches. Mud-brick houses with corrugated sheet-metal roofs dot an undulating green expanse, offering idyllic vistas that often serve as the backdrops of Western imaginations — and stereotypes — about West Africa.

But the muddy streets and shoddy buildings should not obscure the fact that towns like Guéckédou are cosmopolitan, where people from all over the region plug into the global economy. Traders from a mosaic of ethnic groups and nationalities shuttle back and forth across borders, engaging in commerce and finance and linking consumers with goods from all over the globe.

The transnational nature of Forest Guinea region, which shares long, porous borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone, underscores just how different this Ebola outbreak is from its antecedents in central Africa. During those crises, the bulk of the outbreaks were in relatively remote areas, enabling local health officials and the international community to get out in front of an epidemic before it could sufficiently spread beyond those unfortunate communities. This crisis, however, requires a coordinated effort across three countries, each with its own sets of challenges and sociopolitical peculiarities.

During Guinea’s first three decades of independence, gained in 1958, President Sékou Touré set out to dismantle what he considered “backward” traditional leadership structures, such as secret societies, in Forest Guinea region as part of a haphazard attempt to consolidate state control over the area. Regardless of his intent, Touré’s policies proved divisive, privileging certain ethnic groups over others. The introduction of multiparty politics in 1993 ushered in Guinea’s first real foray into semicompetitive electoral politics, but with few traditional organizing principles in Forest Guinea left intact, it also paved the way for political rivalries to form along ethnic lines and over questions of ancestral claims to the region.

In the early 2000s, protracted civil wars in neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone brought refugees, rebels, and violence over the border and into Forest Guinea. The legacy of these conflicts can still be seen in towns like Guéckédou, where countless signs and placards installed by NGOs and foreign governments advertise peace-building projects. Guinea has demonstrated a remarkable ability to take a collective step back every time it seems on the brink of collapse, but the tenuous peace that exists at the macro level cannot hide the extremely violent, internecine flare-ups that are a regular occurrence in many communities throughout the country.

The Ebola crisis has not been spared from these often-toxic domestic politics. Many Guineans, especially during the onset of the epidemic, believe that Ebola is a convenient pretext for sitting President Alpha Condé, who they say will use the crisis as an excuse to delay presidential polls in 2015. Others have insisted that the crisis is part of a broader conspiracy by former colonial master France and powerful mining companies, which locals believe prefer to keep Guinea too weak to stand up to meddlesome foreign powers.

In April, an MSF Ebola center in the Forest Guinea  town of Macenta was attacked by an angry mob that had accused aid workers of bringing Ebola to Guinea. Although no one was seriously hurt, the attacks prompted MSF to temporarily shut down the facility. At the time, government and health officials attributed the incident to failures of communication and to ignorance, which could be overcome through raising awareness and a more delicate approach in dealing with affected communities.

Things took an even more insidious turn three weeks ago when, on Sept. 16, a mob armed with machetes and stones ambushed a delegation of people working on Ebola near N’zérékoré, Guinea’s second-largest city and the largest in Forest Guinea. Afterward, eight bodies of delegation members were found in a septic tank. In interviews, several survivors corroborated key details, but few were willing to speak on the record due to the highly sensitive nature of the incident. One exception was Christophe Millimono, the director of Radio Rurale in N’zérékoré.

Millimono recounted a harrowing story in which community leaders in the subdistrict of Womey received the delegation, which consisted of high-level health officials, government administrators, a preacher, and journalists. Having been welcomed into the area by local leaders, Millimono and his cohort were soon overwhelmed by a violent mob. According to Millimono — who cited strategic road blockages, the simultaneous arrival of the attackers, and the hail of stones that suggested they were collected in advance — the ambush was premeditated.

“It was planned and coordinated,” Millimono says. “This was not against Ebola. If it was against Ebola, they would have never received us,” he continues, suggesting there may have been other political motives beyond the attack. “I don’t know who is responsible for this.”

In the days following, local and national politicians took to the radio and local papers to blame their rivals for the incident.

Threat to the country’s response to the outbreak

Much like the virus itself, the politics of Ebola have proved alarmingly contagious and threaten to undercut the country’s response to the outbreak.

Countering false narratives about Ebola, including the notion that it does not exist, is a critical ingredient to ending the epidemic, and few voices are better placed to educate others than those who have personal experience with the disease. Despite the fact that the current Ebola epidemic is the largest in recorded history, surpassing all other Ebola epidemics combined, the death rate among those infected in Guinea, as far as public health officials can tell, is considerably lower than those in previous outbreaks in central Africa. Whereas previous death rates often reached a startling 90 percent, Guinea is hovering around 50 percent. The comparatively lower rate, while still grim, means there are more survivors to share their story.

One such survivor is 12-year-old Rosaline Konanio. Bright and soft-spoken, with short-cropped hair and long eyelashes, Rosaline recounted her story as one of the first survivors of the Ebola virus in Guinea.

“I caught the disease from my grandmother, who was infected when she went to a funeral at a village,” Rosaline says. “I vomited. I had diarrhea. I had a fever, and my body was in pain.” Rosaline was taken to the hospital, where she received what she describes as “marvelous” treatment from local medical staff supported by MSF.

Rosaline’s grandmother and several other women in her family were not so lucky: They all died of Ebola within days of each other. Robert Kamano, who lives just a few houses from Rosaline, was married to one of those women for 29 years. She was already sick with the disease by the time MSF reached Guéckédou, and she died only a few days later.

People like Kamano, Rosaline, and Moundekeno who have firsthand experience with Ebola are in many ways foot soldiers on the front lines of what has become a hearts-and-minds campaign against an unsentimental and faceless enemy. “I had heard people talk about Ebola before, but in the Congo. It had not arrived in Guinea,” Kamano says. “Truly, I did not know the danger of this malady because I had never seen it. I only heard about it on the radio.” Komano’s message to anyone who will listen is straightforward: “This malady exists, it is serious, and it is very important to take every precaution.”

For her part, Moundekeno says, “When I hear people say that this virus does not exist, I have nothing to say.”
“I tell them, look at my foyer,” she continues, motioning toward her empty stoop. “It is only me who is left.”

Peter Tinti
Foreign Policy

Ebola. Lynchage d’une mission de sensibilisation

En Guinée Forestière, une mission de sensibilisation sur le virus Ebola tourne au lynchage.

C‘est un autre virus qu’Ebola, celui de la peur et de la haine, qui a semé la mort, mardi 16 septembre, dans un village reculé de Guinée forestière. Une mission de sensibilisation sur l’épidémie qui sévit en Guinée depuis le début de l’année a été attaquée à Womé, non loin de la frontière avec le Liberia.
— Huit personnes, sept membres de la délégation, dont trois journalistes, et un habitant, ont été lynchées par des villageois , a expliqué au Monde le ministre guinéen de la santé, le colonel Rémy Lamah, joint à Conakry par téléphone.

Sept corps, dont ceux des représentants du personnel de santé de l’hôpital de N’Zérékoré (la deuxième plus grande ville de Guinée, proche de Womé), un pasteur, le sous-préfet, et plusieurs journalistes venus couvrir l’opération, ont été retrouvés deux jours plus tard dans la fosse septique d’une école de Womé. Le dernier cadavre gisait sur la route à l’entrée du village.
— Certains portaient des traces de coups de machettes , témoigne le colonel Lamah, qui s’est rendu sur place.

D’après le ministre, l’arrivée de cette délégation qui comprenait également le préfet et le gouverneur de la région avait été annoncée et préparée avec les chefs Guerzé, la communauté ethnique à laquelle appartiennent les habitants de Womé.
— La délégation a été bien accueillie dans un premier temps, elle a commencé à expliquer à la population les mesures sanitaires à prendre pour éviter d’être contaminée, puis la réunion a dégénéré en violences », détaille le ministre.
Selon plusieurs témoignages, un participant à la réunion a accusé la délégation « d’amener le virus dans la région », provoquant un mouvement de foule, puis des jets de pierres sur les intervenants.

Peur d’Ebola. Une «  cruauté injustifiable »

— Des jeunes armés de machettes ont alors surgi et les ont attaqués, tout cela était prémédité, accuse Rémy Lamah.
Le premier ministre, Mohamed Saïd Fofana, a condamné avec « la plus grande fermeté l’acte de cruauté intolérable et injustifiable » et annoncé l’ouverture d’une enquête. Six personnes, dont un instituteur, ont été interpellées par la police dans les jours suivant le drame.

Ces violences illustrent la défiance d’une partie de la population vis-à-vis des autorités, critiquées pour leur mauvaise gestion de cette épidémie, partie en décembre 2013 de Guinée forestière et qui a déjà tué 632 personnes dans le pays, selon les derniers chiffres communiqués par l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS).
— Les gens en Guinée forestière n’acceptent pas d’être montrés du doigt et accusés d’avoir contaminé toute la région, explique Béatrice Abouya, chercheuse à Conakry pour l’ONG Search for Common Ground, spécialisée dans la prévention des conflits.

Depuis plusieurs semaines, des SMS circulent pour dire qu’Ebola est une invention du gouvernement guinéen visant à décimer la population de Guinée forestière.
— Rien ne peut expliquer de telles violences, mais les habitants supportent mal de voir certains de leurs rites interdits — notamment les inhumations — de façon brutale par les autorités. Il y a un problème de communication, ajoute-t-elle.

La région forestière, à cheval sur la Guinée, le Liberia et la Côte d’Ivoire, a été secouée ces derniers mois par des conflits meurtriers entre les communautés locales, Guerzé notamment, et Malinké.

— Aucune enquête sérieuse n’a été conduite à la suite des violences précédentes qui ont fait des dizaines de morts. Les populations ont donc le sentiment d’être oubliées par les autorités de Conakry et que les auteurs des violences agissent en toute impunité, regrette Béatrice Abouya. Cette épidémie qui fait rejaillir de vieilles rancoeurs est devenue une véritable source de conflit entre les communautés.

Le Monde