As the media and government continue their ridiculous addiction to raising the fear factor across the globe, The Washington Post has released two articles in the past week that point to a much darker and more disturbing plan that is unfolding. In an article released to The Washington Post Blog today entitled “AFRICOM’s Ebola response and the militarization of humanitarian aid” (LINK), authors Kim Yi Dionne, Laura Seay and Erin McDaniel ask the question, “Is a largely military response appropriate for a public health epidemic?“.
Just last week, The Washington Post published a lengthy article (“New effort to fight Ebola in Liberia would move infected patients out of their homes” – link) introducing the public to Ebola camps, or “containment centers”, that are being put into place for Ebola “victims”. The article states: “Looking for a new approach to blunt the Ebola epidemic sweeping West Africa, the Liberian government, the World Health Organization and their nonprofit partners here are launching an ambitious but controversial program to move infected people out of their homes and into ad hoc centers that will provide rudimentary care, officials said Monday.”
In the WHO’s official plan (link here), they state “(The slowing of contamination) will be done through the establishment of controlled settings, called Ebola Care Units (ECU), where infected persons can be moved to so that they do not further transmit the virus within their households and communities.”
Though the document does not explicitly refer to the containment centers as “camps”, it goes on to describe the facilities as “simple, inexpensive, existing (e.g. hut) or purpose-built (e.g. tent) structures where people with Ebola infection can be housed separately from their families and community.” At first glance, this may not seem that interesting to many. That is until you look into the other aspects of these facilities.
In the Post article, the authors bring up a salient point: “Many humanitarian actors are concerned about the militarization of aid in a variety of global contexts – some note that the presence of militaries in humanitarian crises can make humanitarian aid actors seem to favor one side of a conflict.
Doing so violates two of the basic principles of ethical humanitarian aid: neutrality and impartiality. In general, aid agencies are supposed to help any civilian who needs it without regard for their ethnicity, religion, or the “side” they might support in a conflict, and most work hard to avoid even the appearance of favoring one side over another. Introducing a country’s military into a crisis can make it difficult for aid actors to appear neutral and impartial. In a worst case scenario, this can put aid workers’ lives at risk.”
The article ends on an interesting note, directly referencing the camps: “The rhetoric framing the U.S. response to Ebola as an issue of national security – and deploying a military force to respond – raises the likelihood that the activities undertaken in the response effort could be largely obscured from those ordinary citizens.
Security responses by nature are not meant to be transparent, and the necessity of protecting Ebola containment facilities and health care personnel means that there will be few ways for ordinary Liberians to know exactly what is going on as facilities are constructed and put into use.”
The design of the
camps facilities themselves has only drawn more questions than answers. Below is the official design of the Camps:
The above graphic can be found here and was issued by the CDC, WHO, and Doctor’s Without Borders. The immediate contradiction between the WHO’s official document referenced above describing the facilities as “small” and “uncomplicated” is glaringly noticeable. Of note is that there is a very complicated and confusing “exit” for patients, as well as double (and at times triple) fencing – raising the question “will patients actually be allowed to leave once they are placed into the camp?”.
It doesn’t take much to see where this could go very wrong very fast. In the WHO’s official document, they admit “Finally, given that this is a new approach that has never been tried on a large scale in the past, it needs to be carefully monitored and evaluated.” Given that the US and European governments are already treating the Ebola outbreak as a national security threat, are these camps a small test for a much larger, looming problem we may soon see at home?
Only time will tell.
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