Ebola stops peacekeepers


Sierra Leone, which is battling to contain the deadly Ebola virus, will stop new rotations of its UN-led forces into Somalia for now as authorities move to establish safeguards, Somalia’s president said.

Sierra Leone is one of the key countries contributing troops to the Africa Union mission in Somalia (Amisom), which is helping battle Islamic militant al-Shabaab insurgents there. But Sierra Leone is now deploying hundreds of troops within its own borders under an emergency plan to battle Ebola, which has killed nearly 900 people across West Africa.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, speaking to reporters during the African leaders’ summit in Washington, said there would be no new rotations of Sierra Leone’s forces until proper procedures were in place. He gave no timetable or further details.
“Amisom will stop the rotation of the Sierra Leone battalion so that new soldiers won’t arrive into Somalia unless we provide a means to ensure” people arriving are unaffected, he said.

Ebola, a haemorrhagic virus, has no known cure and is straining the capacity of under-funded health systems and aid groups to the breaking point in one of the world’s poorest regions.

In Sierra Leone on Monday, long convoys of military trucks ferried troops and medical workers to the country’s far east, where the density of cases is highest. A military spokesperson said the operation, code named Octopus, involved around 750 military personnel.