…they unexpectedly saw an excavator and two trucks filled with Ebola dead bodies entering into their community guarded by security forces of the Liberia National Police and the Armed Forces of Liberia.
Monrovia – For the past two days, in Kparpeh’s Town, lower Johnsonville Township, Montserrado County, residents went to bed in fear. The area has not had many Ebola cases reported so far, but on Saturday, 37 dead bodies were brought and dumped in the area. Authorities of the Ministry of Heath and social welfare secured a spot to bury Ebola dead in the Kparpeh’s town area, an action that sparked a standoff between residents and the security forces.
The Armed Forces of Liberia was brought in to restore calm, but on Sunday Morning the sight of dead bodies; some buried, some in body bags all around, was awful. FrontPage Africa visit revealed a small plot of land, which has been used by the Ministry of Health, to bury over 37 Ebola dead, had not been utilized properly putting the community at risk.
On a small plot of land, which has been used by the Ministry of Health, to bury over 37 Ebola dead, dead bodies can be seen in plastic floating in a grave filled with water but has not been covered with dirt. A Kparpeh’s resident informed FrontPageAfrica that the excavator got stocked in a mud while digging graves for the Ebola dead bodies in a swampy area and could not be easily removed during the night.
At the burial site, several gloves and personal protective equipment used by the burial team were scattered around the graves of the Ebola dead bodies, contrary to statements from health officials that the gloves and other equipment are often disposed of after the burial.
The residents informed FPA that as a result of the excavator’s failure, few residents of the community were hired to dig graves and help in the burial process, but all bodies could not be buried during the night as some bodies were thrown in open graves up till Sunday morning when new bodies would arrive for another burial.
Earlier Sunday morning, residents placed roadblocks on the main route leading to the Ebola cemetery and stood in their numbers to resist any attempt by government to carry out another burial in their community. The residents fear the dead bodies could contaminate their waters, as they have no access to par born water, but only rely on creeks and well waters to survive.
Shedrick Bettie, a prominent resident of the Johnsonville Township who appealed to the residents to remove the roadblocks to allow the Red Cross access to see the unburied bodies was saddened by the action of the Health Ministry and wants government to redouble its efforts in the fight against the Ebola virus.
Said Mr. Bettie: “I feel very, very bad to see the bodies that were not disposed of including the materials. They used the residents who were not fully protected to bury after the excavator failed. The graves were not even dug properly and they were dug in less than two feet, which poses a serious risk to the community.” Bettie believes that the government should secure a safe national cemetery for Ebola dead bodies outside the city and residential areas, which can be visited by family members few years later and memorialized.
Continued Bettie: “Government should go into another area that is not populated and secure a site where they can dispose of the Ebola victims. One thing is these are people who died of the outbreak and after five years or so, the government can declare that place as a national cemetery where people can go and have access to pay respect to their deceased relatives that they never had the opportunity to bury. We are calling on the government to take appropriate actions to come here and ensure that those bodies are either removed or buried properly”.
Bettie later helped in calming the residents to abandon their protest as he promised that efforts will be exerted to call the attention of the Liberian Government to the unburied bodies in the community.
Henry S. Gono, a resident of Kaprpeh’s town in the township of Johnsonville was among an angry crowd that resisted the entry of Ebola dead bodies in their community on Saturday, but the resistance did not stop the burial of some 37 persons in their town. He told FrontPageAfrica that they unexpectedly saw an excavator and two trucks filled with Ebola dead bodies entering into their community guarded by security forces of the Liberia National Police and the Armed Forces of Liberia.
He said an attempt by community dwellers to resist the entry of the trucks into their community for burial resulted in the brutal intervention of officers from the police Support Unit of the Liberia National Police and the Armed Forces of Liberia. He says four of his kinsmen were rounded up and flogged severely by AFL forces and since Saturday evening only one of the men has been able to recover from the flogging while three others are nursing their injuries at their respective homes.
Explained Gono: “Yesterday unexpectedly, we just saw lots of Ebola dead bodies coming into our community. When we tried to tell them to carry the bodies back the stated firing in the air. They caught our brothers, flogged them and wounded them. They say the thing is harmful to human being and we are seeing them brining it in our community. We don’t want the burial to take place because it’s not safe for us. We have no drinking water here. We drink from the creeks and wells. As we speak now some of the bodies have not been buried. They were just thrown into the holes. According to them (Heath Ministry) they are going to bring more bodies today. We will use our peace means to stand on the roads to ensure that nobody will enter here today.”
Oretha Nimely, an elderly resident of the same community is likewise unhappy with the situation. She stands with stones in her hands right behind the blockade listening carefully to some officials of the Danish Red Cross society who had come to ascertain the manner in which the burial was carried out. They managed to convince the residents to remove the blockages and requested to see the burial site which they did.
Upon arrival at the grave site, the Danish Red Cross officials could be seen shaking their heads in complete disgust while observing the site and taking pictures of the open graves. Said Madam Nimely: “All the Ebola victims that are dying all round town, they never found anywhere to carry them but only Johnsonville they brought them. So the human being too plenty here and we don’t want the body to be buried here. When they bring the body here we have our children here, they will get sick.”
On Sunday, vehicles occupied by armed soldiers of the AFL were seen patrolling the area in an attempt to fear residents into allowing further burial of Ebola victims. The Government seems to lack control over the burial as burial teams are seen in separate locations around Monrovia.
Burying Ebola dead bodies continue to raise serious concern among residents of various communities in Liberia in the aftermath of the deadly Ebola outbreak that has claimed the lives of over 720 people in the Mano River Union sub-region. Several community dwellers fear the virus could contaminate their waters and cause more deaths, though studies have not proven such.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Ebola HF) is one of numerous Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers. It is a severe, often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees), according to the Center for Disease Control in the USA
Ebola HF is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus. When infection occurs, symptoms usually begin abruptly. The first Ebolavirus species were discovered in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the Ebola River. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically. The virus has no cure but can be prevented. Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, internal and external bleeding among others.
Recently, President Sirleaf announced as part of stringent measures to curb the Ebola virus that her government was considering cremating (burning) dead bodies of the Ebola virus, but the measure is yet to be put into action as burials continue to take place across the country.
About 720 people of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have died from the Ebola virus since the outbreak in February 2014 and over 180 have died in Liberia, according to the Ministry of Heath and Social Welfare regular update. The World Health organization (WHO) is currently seeking US$100 Million to help combat the disease.