Western militaries scramble to aid Ebola-hit west Africa

Saturday, September 20, 2014
By Paul Martin

Rod Mac Johnson, AFP
Sep. 19, 2014

Freetown (AFP) – Western militaries readied aid missions Friday to help Africa’s Ebola-hit nations battle an epidemic which has sparked killings in panicked southern Guinea and forced a nationwide shutdown in Sierra Leone.

The United States said a 3,000-strong contingent of troops due to deploy to Liberia would help train health workers, while Germany and France unveiled plans to send military transport planes to help contain the spread.

The announcements came after Sierra Leone launched a nationwide three-day shutdown to contain the deadly spread of an Ebola epidemic described by the UN Security Council as a threat to world peace.

The outbreak has killed more than 2,600 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone this year, cutting a swathe through entire villages at the epicentre and prompting warnings over possible economic catastrophe from the World Bank.

Most of Sierra Leone’s six million people were confined to their homes from midnight (0000 GMT) on Friday, with only essential workers such as health professionals and security forces exempt.

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