Thousands of people in Sierra Leone are being forced to violate Ebola quarantines to find food because deliveries are not reaching them, aid agencies said.
Large swaths of the West African country have been sealed off to prevent the spread of Ebola, and within those areas many people have been ordered to stay in their homes. The government, with help from the U.N.’s World Food Program, is tasked with delivering food and other services to those people. But there are many “nooks and crannies” in the country that are being missed, Jeanne Kamara, Christian Aid’s Sierra Leone representative, said Tuesday.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed nearly 5,000 people and authorities have gone to extreme lengths to bring it under control, like the quarantines in Sierra Leone.
While public health authorities have said such measures may be necessary to bring under control an Ebola outbreak unlike any other, the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella organization for aid organizations, warned on Monday that they were cutting off food to thousands of people.
“The quarantine of Kenema, the third largest town in Sierra Leone, is having a devastating impact on trade — travel is restricted so trucks carrying food cannot freely drive around,” the committee said in a statement. “Food is becoming scarce, which has led to prices increasing beyond the reach of ordinary people.”
Because services are not reaching them, people who are being monitored for signs of Ebola — and should be staying at home — are venturing out to markets to look for food, potentially contaminating many others, said Kamara