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30 Dec 2014
UNDP is helping cut the spread of Ebola between cross-border communities in Liberia and Sierra Leone PHOTO: UNDP/LIBERIA
UNDP is set to help the Liberian government build new border posts to cut cross-border Ebola infections from Sierra Leone.
Infections in Liberia’s Eastern border region have spiked recently as tight-knit cross-border communities spread the disease across the often porous border. 49 new cases have been recorded in the border county of Grand Cape Mount in December, including 12 in the past four days.
UNDP Country Director Kamil Kamaluddeen said that in order to stop this new spread of Ebola into Liberia, borders must be properly patrolled and border officials need the right protection against the disease.
“The official border crossings from Sierra Leone into Grand Cape Mount are all patrolled, however, there are a number of places where it’s possible to cross without detection” he said.
With UNDP assistance, Liberia’s Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization in setting up the border posts in remote, often inaccessible areas where people are suspected to be crossing.
Motorbikes, tents, communications equipment and personal protective equipment will be also be provided for eight border crossings, which will allow immigration as well as health workers to operate at the border. They will also work with the Liberian Small Arms Commission, which has been concerned about weapons smuggling and other illegal activities.
Peter Zayzay, Director of the Bureau for Immigration and Naturalization, said that patrolling the borders is incredibly difficult, and the support from UNDP will mean that more areas can be reached.
“These areas are very remote, yet communities on both sides of the border are very closely linked. People are crossing the border to visit family and friends, and some of them are bringing Ebola with them,” he said.
“In the remote areas you find people from all over West Africa who have come to do artisanal mining, hunting and cross border trade. We need to get the message out to them that Ebola is real, because in their work they come into contact with a lot of people, but the messages about Ebola prevention have not necessarily reached them.
Sierra Leone has over 7000 thousand confirmed Ebola cases. To date, Liberia has just over 3000. According to the World Health Organisation, over 20,000 people have now been affected.
UNDP will provide similar support to Liberia in four other counties on its borders with Sierra Leone and Guinea.