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Liberia reopens its schools

by
06 February 2015

by a staff reporter

CUTTINGTON UNIVERSITY

Preparations: students, faculty and staff, employed at the International Medical Corps' Bong County Ebola treatment unit in Suakoko district, wait for get ready for the university to reopen 

Preparations: students, faculty and staff, employed at the International Medical Corps' Bong County Ebola treatment unit in Suakoko district, ...

SCHOOLS and universities in Liberia are beginning to reopen, six months after they were closed at the height of the outbreak of the Ebola virus, which has so far killed about 9000 people in West Africa.

The reopening of educational institutions is a sign that the country believes that it is beginning to get over the outbreak, and only four new cases within its borders were confirmed last week. The first vaccine trials against the virus also began in Liberia this week.

The Episcopal Church of Liberia's Cuttington University is fundraising to try to open its doors again: money is needed to bring back teachers who left the country to escape the outbreak. The Bishop of Liberia, Dr Jonathan Bau-Bau Bonaparte Hart, has appealed for $1.3 million (£857,000) to get the university open again. While educational institutions were closed, Cuttington donated its housing, fields, and kitchens for use by an Ebola-virus treatment-centre near the university.

Re-integrating survivors of the virus into their communities is now becoming the priority for many aid agencies in the region. About 22,000 people are thought to have been infected with the disease, meaning that there are about 13,000 survivors.

The Methodist charity All We Can has set up a survivor centre in Sierra Leone in which trained counsellors will offer support and work with families to tackle their fears and concerns. This includes raising awareness of the risk of sexual transmission of the virus, given that the virus can still be sexually transmitted up to three months after a survivor has been medically certified as free of it.

Survivors have also had all their personal belonging incinerated to eradicate any infection, and leave hospitals with nothing; so the Methodist Church of Sierra Leone is providing packs containing shoes, clothes, and food, and is appealing for donations to provide more.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has written off $100 million of debt owed by Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. The Fund urged other countries to write off mroe debt to help the West African nations rebuild after the Ebola crisis.

Tim Jones, policy director at the Jubilee Debt Campaign, welcomed the decision but warned that the IMF would also be loaning hundreds of millions more.

"The IMF can easily afford to cancel all the $620 million debt of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone which will remain," he said. "It should do so."

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