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Police fire tear gas on crowd during Sierra Leone Ebola lockdown

REUTERS by Josephus Olu-Mammah and Umaru Fofana                                                              March 28, 2015
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone --Police fired tear gas at an angry crowd in Sierra Leone on Saturday after they threw stones at officials during a three-day national lockdown that the government hopes will accelerate the end of the Ebola epidemic, residents said.

Sierra Leone has reported nearly 12,000 Ebola cases and more than 3,000 deaths since the worst epidemic in history was detected in neighbouring Guinea a year ago. New cases have fallen sharply since a peak of more than 500 a week in December but the government says the lockdown, its second, is necessary to identify the last cases and to buck a worrying trend towards complacency.

Officials have ordered the six million residents to stay inside on pain of arrest as hundreds of health official go door-to-door looking for hidden patients and educating residents about the haemorrhagic fever.

Hundreds of people left their homes in the Devil Hole neighbourhood outside the capital to gather at a food collection point. Some residents complained they had not received food and fighting broke out until police arrived to scatter the crowd.

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Violence against women rises in Ebola-hit nations: ministers

REUTERS  By Maria Caspani                                       March 18, 2015

 UNITED NATIONS - The Ebola epidemic in West Africa exacerbated violence against women and rolled back access to reproductive healthcare in the region, ministers from Guinea and Liberia said on Wednesday.

In Guinea, data indicates a 4.5 percent increase in cases of gender-based violence since before the epidemic including twice as many rapes, Sanaba Kaba, the country's minister of social action, women and children, said on a panel at the United Nations 59th Commission on the Status of Women.

Liberia also saw more cases of gender-based violence as a result of the outbreak, said Julia Duncan Cassell, minister of gender and development in that country.

She said some men were not respecting the recovery protocol that Ebola survivors should observe and were infecting their spouses and female partners through unprotected sex.

Sierra Leone also has seen an increase in violence against women, said panel moderator Awa Ndiaye Seck, Liberian country representative for UN Women, the agency responsible for gender equality and women's empowerment.

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Cadre Harmonisé for Identification of Areas and Populations in Food Insecurity in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - March 2015

CLICK HERE - Cadre Harmonisé for Identification of Areas and Populations in Food Insecurity in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (5 page .PDF file)


In March 2014, the first Ebola virus disease (EVD) case was confirmed in Guinea and quickly spread to the neighbouring countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. In September, the EVD outbreak was declared a global emergency by the UN assembly and national governments in the region, resulting in the implementation of measures to contain the outbreak including border and market closures, road blocks and quarantines. The measures and behaviours related to the outbreak directly disrupted many economic activities leading to major economic losses in almost all sectors.

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Exclusive: Guinea says Ebola patients sent home after botched blood tests

REUTERS    by Emma Farge                                                                                      March 2, 2015

 DAKAR - Health officials botched more than 20 Ebola blood tests in January and February which led to the release of at least four positive patients, two of whom later died, Guinea's anti-Ebola coordinator and other health officials told Reuters.

Five health officials and experts familiar with the incidents said the mistakes occurred at two different treatment centers and resulted as many as 52 botched tests, exposing many others to the virus and revealing weaknesses in Guinea's response to the crisis.

Dr Sakoba Keita, Guinea's anti-Ebola coordinator, confirmed the mistake had occurred but gave lower figures. He said in an emailed response to questions that 23 patients were affected, of whom four tested positive when they were retested and two died....

 Health officials, some of whom asked not to be named because they were worried about embarrassing the Guinean government, said the mistakes took place in Coyah, where Cuban medics are supporting a government-run center, and in Conakry, where medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres runs another center at the Donka hospital complex, when staff placed blood samples in the wrong test tubes, damaging specimens.

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Violent Protests in Ebola-Hit Guinea After Imam's Arrest


An imam gives information on Ebola during Friday prayers at a mosque in Conakry, Guinea, on April 11, 2014
(AFP Photo/Cellou Binani) - Conakry, Guinea - February 10, 2015

Around a dozen Guineans were wounded Monday in clashes with police after the arrest of an imam who led funeral prayers for a suspected victim of Ebola.

Demonstrators put up barricades, burned tyres and overturned rubbish bins in the capital Conakry, before using sticks and stones to attack officers who responded with tear gas and baton charges.

"They came for the third imam of our mosque because yesterday he led the funeral prayers in the mosque here for a relative who died a natural death," a protester told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"For the Guinean authorities no one can now die a natural death. All those who die have inevitably died of Ebola," he said.

A policeman told AFP that the officers wanted simply to question the imam on the cause of death and the conditions at the burial.

"It is especially important to know that he didn't have Ebola to ensure the safety of his family and neighbours, including potential contacts," he said.

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Estimating Food Consumption and Poverty Indices with Mobile Phone Data

submitted by George Hurlburt - November 22, 2014
Adeline Decuyper, Alex Rutherford, Amit Wadhwa, Jean-Martin Bauer, Gautier Krings, Thoralf Gutierrez, Vincent D. Blondel, Miguel A. Luengo-Oroz
arXiv:1412.2595 [cs.CY]

Recent studies have shown the value of mobile phone data to tackle problems related to economic development and humanitarian action. In this research, we assess the suitability of indicators derived from mobile phone data as a proxy for food security indicators. We compare the measures extracted from call detail records and airtime credit purchases to the results of a nationwide household survey conducted at the same time. Results show high correlations (> .8) between mobile phone data derived indicators and several relevant food security variables such as expenditure on food or vegetable consumption. This correspondence suggests that, in the future, proxies derived from mobile phone data could be used to provide valuable up-to-date operational information on food security throughout low and middle income countries.

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Estimating Food Consumption and Poverty Indices with Mobile Phone Data

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Street Protests Loom as Shortages, Inflation and Oil Slump Hit Venezuela


Students block a street as they clash with national guards during a protest against the government in San Cristóbal on Wednesday. Photograph: Reuters

As President Nicolás Maduro tours the world in search of financing, the most conciliatory opposition leader says the time has come to mobilise on the streets - by Sibylla Brodzinski - January 16, 2015

Even Venezuela’s most conciliatory opposition leader has had enough.

Amid sky-high inflation, an absent president, snaking queues outside supermarkets, and plummeting oil prices, Henrique Capriles said this week that the time was ripe to try to force a change.

“We are in a state of emergency,” he said on Monday. “This is the time to mobilise in the streets.”


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International Bandits in Guinea Steal Suspected Ebola Blood

ASSOCIATED PRESS                                                    Nov. 21, 2014
By Boubacar Diallo

CONAKRY, Guinea — It was a highway robbery but the bandits got more than they bargained for when they stopped a taxi van in Guinea and made off with blood samples that are believed to be infected with the deadly Ebola virus.

Authorities publicly appealed on national radio Friday to the unidentified robbers to hand over the samples that were stolen from the minibus taxi during its 265-kilometer (165-mile) trek from central Kankan prefecture to a test site in southern Gueckedou.

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Guarding The Ebola Border

Ivory Coast patrol guards against people crossing in from Ebola-stricken Liberia

Thieu Patrice, Tan Benjamin and village chief Gueu Denis of Gahapleu, Ivory Coast, stand on the path to Liberia.

NPR                                                                                                                            Nov. 18, 2014
By Gregory Warner
GAHAPLEU, Ivory Coast --The arrival of Ebola on the Liberian side of the border, Nimba County, with more than 100 cases, turned this border-straddling community into a security risk.

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Jihadi Online Chatter Discusses Using Ebola as Weapon Against the West

HOMELAND SECURITY TODAY                                                        Oct. 3, 2014

By: Anthony Kimery, Editor-in-Chief

 Jihadists and supporters of the Islamic State have stepped up discussions on jihadist social media websites about the possibility and ease of using Ebola, as well as other virulent pathogens and poisons, as weapons against the US and the West, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) said Friday.

Homeland Security Today first reported on August 4 that US counterterrorism officials were concerned that African-based, Al Qaeda-tied ihadist groups might try to take advantage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa by sending Ebola infected “bio-martyrs” to the US. The officials said they could be members of Al Shabaab -- who have been caught this past year trying to enter the US through the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, according to intelligence sources -- Nigeria’s savage Boko Haram or Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

... officials discussed their concerns with Homeland Security Todayat the time because, they explained, the terrorist component of a pandemic “must” be taken into any response planning consideration “because it changes the dynamics of a natural pandemic and requires considerably different planning and far more resources to deal with it,” as one explained. 

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