The Ebola virus has placed Liberia in peril.
“More than half of all deaths in this outbreak are in Liberia. The more than 600 dead Liberians are more than all of the Ebola deaths in previous outbreaks since 1976,” Richard Wilson, president of Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote in a recent memorandum.
In response to a Liberian Ministry of Health report on the medical needs, Baylor Scott and White Health’s Faith in Action Initiative recently sent personal protection equipment, such as gloves, masks, gowns, footies and plastic face shields to Liberia. Another shipment is scheduled for September.
Wilson’s memo emphasized that a distinction between those afflicted with the virus and those affected by it is needed because the nation’s medical crisis has caused economic and humanitarian crises.
The isolation being used to curb the spread of the virus has negatively impacted the Liberian economy, while quarantines have heightened fear and tension, leading to violence.
“The demands for isolation to prevent the spread of the virus undermine the basic economics of a nation where 90 percent subsist on $1 U.S. a day. When the markets are emptied and the streets are barely filled, the merchant has an impossible task to secure small money,” Wilson noted.
“Hunger is growing in Liberia. It will continue to become the most critical issue,” he continued. “Hungry people become desperate. Desperation breeds violence. Violence leads to conflict.”
Wilson cited the quarantine of West Point—an impoverished area near the capital of Monrovia—that was barricaded and guarded by armed police as an example of this progression.
“Arming the police created an adversarial position… . When people believe that they have nothing to lose, the possibility of violence increases. Once violence becomes the default response to hardship, anarchy is not far behind,” he wrote.