Reuters / 2Tango
The bodies of eight people – including three journalists – were found in Guinea after an Ebola health team came under attack two days ago, officials said. Meanwhile, the UN plans to deploy a special mission to fight the virus in the worst-hit countries.
The group, which included three doctors and three journalists, is said to have been attacked near Nzerekore, a city near Guinea’s southern tip. With the Ebola death toll now topping 2,600, the team was sent to the area to help raise awareness about the virus. They had been missing since Tuesday.
The six were found dead on Thursday. The identities of the other two bodies are currently unknown.
Government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara told Reuters that the workers and journalists were brutally beaten to death.
“The eight bodies were found in the village latrine. Three of them had their throats slit,” he said.
Earlier this week, the team members met with locals. A resident named Yves told the Guardian that there were no problems until after that assembly took place.
“The meeting started off well; the traditional chiefs welcomed the delegation with 10 kola nuts as a traditional greeting,” Yves said. “It was afterwards that some youths came out and started stoning them. They dragged some of them away, and damaged their vehicles.”
Health worker burn used protection gear at the NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) center in Conakry on September 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Cellou Binani)
The dangers of Ebola have been difficult to communicate in some rural villages, where suspicion of health workers reigns. Last month in Nzerekore, riots erupted when workers reportedly “tried to spray the local market,” leading residents to believe they were actually spreading the virus themselves.
As the virus continues to tear through West Africa, the UN announced on Thursday that it is creating a special mission to fight the disease in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone – the three countries where the virus has done the worst damage. The move came just as the UN Security Council called the outbreak “a threat to international peace and security.”
Co-sponsored by 131 nations, the plan will involve mobilizing money, personnel, and supplies to victims.
“This international mission...will have five priorities: stopping the outbreak, treating the infected, ensuring essential services, preserving stability and preventing further outbreaks,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said to the Security Council.
Other countries have also been stepping up aid to the region. The United States announced on Tuesday that it is sending 3,000 troops to West Africa, and that it will build 17 new treatment centers. France will install a military hospital in Guinea. Britain, China, and Cuba have promised to send health workers to the region.
Jackson Naimah, a health team leader in Liberia, told the Security Council that more help is desperately needed.
“We are trying to treat as many people as we can, but there are not nearly enough treatment centers and patient beds,” he said, according to Reuters. “People are sitting at the gates of our centers, literally begging for their lives. They rightly feel alone, neglected, denied – left to die a horrible, undignified death.”