A Liberian town was in crisis Thursday as 43 people quarantined on suspicion of having contracted the Ebola virus threatened to escape from the isolation area due to a lack of food. The town, Jenewonda, located near Liberia's border with Sierra Leone, recently saw four people die of the virus, which led authorities to institute the quarantine, the Associated Press quoted state radio station Liberia Broadcasting System as reporting.
As has been the case with a number of other Ebola quarantine zones during the outbreak, food scarcity quickly became a major concern as no one has been allowed to enter or leave the area for a period of time that could not be immediately quantified. The Liberian Broadcasting System report said the quarantined Liberians said the United Nations World Food Programme had stopped delivering food to them, but organization spokesman Alexis Masciarelli told the AP via email that it had not handed out food in the affected area.
"WFP in Liberia heard about this community being isolated only two days ago via the radio, and staff immediately began organizing a mission to bring food to the quarantined people," Masciarelli wrote, adding that after hearing of the hunger crisis there, the WFP's logistics group planned to deliver food to Jenewonda's quarantined residents on Thursday.
Denise Brown, the WFP's regional director for West Africa, predicted last week that the 750,000 West Africans could die of malnutrition as a result of the Ebola outbreak, The Independent reported. The WFP estimated last week that it had distributed food to more than 500,000 people across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and planned to distribute food to at least 600,000 more people by the end of the month.
“The world is mobilizing, and we need to reach the smallest villages in the most remote locations," Brown said. “Indications are that things will get worse before they improve. How much worse depends on us all.”