The news keeps getting worse for the West African countries that are suffering from Ebola virus outbreaks. International health officials are still experiencing trouble in halting the spread of cases and now Ivory Coast turned away 400 refugees who recently fled to Liberia.
According to the World Health Organization, the death tolls in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone reached 603 after 85 new cases and 68 deaths were documented in between July 8-12. Sierra Leone experienced the worst conditions over that five-day span, reporting 49 new cases and 52 deaths, compared to Liberia (30 new cases and 13 deaths) and Guinea (six new cases and three deaths).
Despite the lower numbers for Guinea, the West African country has experienced the worst of the situation, amassing 406 cases and 304 deaths since the outbreaks began in February. Now, Guinea's southeastern neighbor, Ivory Coast (Cote D'Ivoire), has closed its border to refugees in order to avoid having the Ebola virus spread into their country. This decision, according to a United Nations official, has violated domestic and international law.
The country rejected 400 refugees who were returning home after fleeing to Liberia in 2010-2011 during which conflict broke out in Cote D'Ivoire when then-President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in elections. The UN refugee agency offered to screen the refugees for any traces of the virus at the border, but Ivorian officials declined the gesture.
"Everyone needs to show some understanding," said Ivorian government spokesman Bruno Kone, quoted by AFP news agency, in this BBC News article. "We face the greatest pandemic our region has seen for a long time. We cannot be lax in this area."
Similarly, Senegal closed their border that neighbors Guinea back in March when it was reported that the Ebola virus killed 70 people and began spreading to Guinea's capital, Conakry. They also canceled a weekly market that took place in the southern region of Kolda, which is an important mode of commerce, attracting thousands of people who trade and purchase various goods. Senegal reopened the border on March 6.
It's unknown if the United Nations will step in and take action on the issue, but for now Ivory Coast is holding firm in order to avoid an Ebola virus outbreak in their country after they've avoided it for so long. You can read more about the Ebola crisis in West Africa in this Boston Globe article.