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Prominent African condemn stigmatization of Ebola affected countries

A group of prominent and eminent Africans under the banner Concerned African Citizens have joined the call against the rising trend of stigmatization against nationals of Ebola-hit countries.

A Foreign Ministry release quotes a dispatch from the Addis Ababa-based African Union (AU) Headquarters as saying that the nearly 100 Africans, cut across various professions including former Heads of State, are urging the respective Heads of State and Government to avoid full embargo against Ebola-affected states.

“While we understand the legitimate concerns for the protection of their population, we remind African leaders of their obligation to pan-African solidarity and the global community of their humanitarian obligations in emergencies”, the group of African citizens stated in a recent communiqué.

The group which includes Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania, Mrs. Graca Machel, widow of Nelson Mandela,  Senegalese singer and Grammy Award Winner, Akon, and Hassan Arouni, Senior Producer & Presenter BBC Focus on Africa, among others, noted that the action is challenging the travel embargo on Ebola affected Member States.

The group of Africans said they are lending their voices to lift the strict measures that led to the quarantine of affected nations against the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and many humanitarian groups.

The group’s call comes as the Liberian Government via the Foreign Ministry recently released a Press Statement in which it reiterated its concern over the manner in which Liberian citizens are being stigmatized due to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the country.

The prominent Africans who are calling for more signatures said as the Ebola virus becomes an overwhelming human catastrophe affecting public health, social institutions and economic well-being in Africa, they stand in solidarity with their fellow citizens in the countries victimized by the deadly disease.

“We call on African opinion leaders – including artists, athletes, filmmakers, writers, journalists, academics – to initiate or to actively take part in public information campaigns on prevention and transmission of the Ebola. These can happen via road-shows, film screenings, theatrical pieces, discussion groups, and the distribution of messages via cellphone networks. And we call upon global opinion leaders to add their talents and voices in support”, the group added.

The group also thanked and saluted the local and international health workers who are risking their lives daily, “intervening on the ground to eradicate the scourge of Ebola, often without access to gloves and other protective supplies.”

The prominent Africans said they acknowledged and applauded the decision of the health ministers of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to call for the lifting of travel bans to Ebola affected countries, which are hampering the fight against Ebola and restricting the arrival of essential expertise and equipment, as well as fuel to provide electricity, medications to treat other deadly diseases such as malaria and food to prevent famine.

Among other issues, the group stressed the need for the rest of the world to authorize and implement the local recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a way of ensuring that the flow of essential assistance can reach those in need, while maintaining economic activity necessary for sustaining life in cities and villages.

The group then bemoans the quarantining of entire nations but instead establish much-needed economic and humanitarian corridors of access – essential life-lines – both within the affected countries and between countries.

The group of African called on the broad private sector, the pharmaceutical industry, and the research community, in particular, to fund, facilitate and make immediately available access to all known methods of prevention and treatment of this menacing threat to the global well-being of Africa and the World of joining the call by signing the petition at ww.gopetition.com/petitions/ebola-stop-quarantine-of-entire- countries.

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