In the News: Governments and NGOs in the Fight Against Ebola

Yesterday, The CIHA Blog assembled a number of articles about the ethics of treatment of the Ebola virus and the populations afflicted by it. Today, we are looking at a number of broader ethical issues, including distrust of NGO and government efforts to enact public health measures – often coming out of longstanding governance failures and the multitude of NGOs that enter during humanitarian crises.

How Not to End a Plague
by Clair MacDougall in Foreign Policy

Ebola Threatens to Derail a Decade of Peace
by Leymah Gbowee in The Guardian

Using a Tactic Unseen in a Century, Countries Cordon Off Ebola-Racked Areas
by Donald G. McNeil Jr. in The New York Times

As Ebola Grips Liberia’s Capital, a Quarantine Sows Social Chaos
by Norimitsu Onishi in The New York Times

Ebola, mistrust and humanitarian mobility
by Adia Benton for Mats Utas’ blog

Fear in Liberia turns violent as a mob attacks an Ebola clinic
by Marc Kilstein in PRI’s The World

Liberia’s poverty, skepticism of experts makes treating Ebola harder
by Pamela Scully for Reuters

On the off chance that war doesn’t change everything: More on Ebola
by Adia Benton for Ethnography 911 blog

On Ebola and the pathological movements of Others
by Adia Benton for Ethnography 911 blog

In the News: The Ethics of Ebola and Its Treatment

The CIHA Blog has had its eye on the ethical issues and questions around the treatment of the people who have been infected with Ebola and the efforts to fight the virus. In this post, we have gathered some posts about who gets the ZMapp experimental vaccine/treatment that has shown some efficacy, as well as who decides who gets to leave the West African countries for treatment in the U.S. and Europe and who must stay.

The Not-So-Secret Serum
by Adia Benton in Dissent Magazine

Opting Against Ebola Drug for Ill African Doctor
by Andrew Pollack in The New York Times

Hospitallers to regroup, return to Liberia after priest dies of Ebola
by Laura Ieraci for Vatican Radio

The Danger in Losing Sight of Ebola Victims’ Humanity
by Raphael Frankfurter in The Atlantic

Aid Worker Speaks Out On Why Ebola Keeps Spreading
by Eleanor Goldberg in The Huffington Post

NewLink says Ebola vaccine trial could start in weeks
by Sharon Begley for Reuters/Daily Maverick

For tomorrow’s post, we have a collection of articles to help understand some of the other ethical issues that the Ebola-afflicted countries (and their populations) face.

In the News: Fighting Ebola in West Africa

For about four months, the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia have been facing the worst-ever epidemic of Ebola in the capital cities as well as rural areas, and neighboring countries are also enacting policies to fight the disease’s spread.

Kim Yi Dionne writes in The Washington Post, “Why West African Governments Are Struggling in Response to Ebola,” about the complications of responding to Ebola, particularly when health professionals, already spread thin, might face cultural contexts different from their own.

Umaru Fofana writes in “How to Ignore a Plague” for Medium.com of Sierra Leone ‘s response and how church and mosque leaders, among others, are adapting their practices to the disease.

Experiences of a Former General of the Civil Defense Forces: Humanitarian Issues in Sierra Leone and Liberia, Then and Now

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dear Readers, the below is the second post of a three-part series on the moral economy of resource extraction, with its attendant violent commodification of people’s lives.  In order to probe some of the issues raised in part-one, our interview with Danny Hoffman, CIHA Blog editorial assistant Ben Cox interviews Mohamed Tarawalley about his experiences during the recent conflict in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the state of humanitarian aid, and his collaboration with Hoffman. Mohamed Tarawalley is former General of the Civil Defense Forces in Sierra Leone and founder of Action for Poverty Mitigation in the Third World (APM3) and West African Youth Agenda Against Corrupt Practices (WAYAACP). We are grateful that he could join us from Monrovia, Liberia.

Ben Cox (BC): Could you speak a little about yourself and your experience in the conflict in Sierra Leone and Liberia?

Mohamed Tarawalley (MT): I am Sierra Leonean and hail from Kailahun District in the eastern part of the country from a town called Jojoima in the Malema Chiefdom. I am the first male born child of my parents. I am 40 years now, born in 1972 on 19 January. I was schooled in Sierra Leone up through the Sixth Form, but my university education was disrupted by the rebellion.

With respect to the conflict in Liberia and Sierra Leone, in which I participated from the beginning to the end, I look at most of the humanitarian ventures, especially the DDR Program [Demobilization and Reintegration Program], as a partial failure. The DDR Program was designed from outside, was exported from outside, and got into this area and was just forced down the throats of people. The people were forced to pick it up because there were no other alternatives. And the real people – the real actors – were not given the chance to contribute ideas on how the program should work or what we might need. The conditions that led to the war during that time are still very much visible and alive here now — we are on a time bomb in these areas. If you come here one day, you will understand what I mean. Continue reading

Youth, Labor, and Violence: The Production of Humanitarian Crises in Sierra Leone and Liberia

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dear Readers, the below is the first post of a three-part series on the moral economy of resource extraction, with its attendant violent commodification of people’s lives. In this post, Ben Cox, an editorial assistant for The CIHA Blog, sits down with Danny Hoffman to discuss his latest book. Topics addressed include the politics of photographic representation; mobility, labor, youth and violence; and future projects in West Africa. All images have been graciously provided by Danny Hoffman.

Ben Cox (BC): The title of your first book is War Machines: Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia. What are the stakes of doing an ethnography in a warzone? What is the book about?

Danny Hoffman (DH): The phrase the “war machines,” and the theoretical underpinnings of the book is from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, but what I have really been interested in is thinking about young men and their participation in the conflict on both sides of the Mano River, which forms the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia. I am thinking of these guys as essentially a labor force, which I think is an unusual way to think about African violence, at least in a lot of the popular literature, but also in anthropology and political science as well. I was interested in the movement of young men across the region, and the forces that allow for them to be assembled and deployed as laborers in a certain kind of violent economy. What I found during the time of this research was that for a lot of the fighters on both sides of the border, the work of going to war was one form of labor that they didn’t necessarily think of as being qualitatively distinct from any other form of labor, such as taking diamonds, tapping rubber, etc. The thing that interested me was: how are these guys moving around the region, what are the forces that allow them to be assembled and deployed, and how does that change for them over time, if it does? For one of the groups that I worked with, the Civil Defense Forces in Sierra Leone, they followed an interesting trajectory. They began as a village-based community defense body and then, over time, became essentially a mercenary pool of reserve labor to be deployed around the region. The book follows that trajectory. It looks at these factors within the history of the region and the history of the conflict, and then doing a closer ethnographic reading of the different facets of those processes in various regions over time. Continue reading