Ebola and African Solidarity: Ivory Coast Has a Short Memory
By Abdoulaye W. Dukulé
The United Nations adopted a resolution [last year], calling on countries of the West African sub-region to put an end to the isolation which they have imposed on nations affected by the Ebola virus. Currently, to get medicines and aid to the affected countries, United Nations and the United States which will deploy 3,000 soldiers and medics in Liberia have to use airports in Ghana and Spain. Because despite assurances from everyone, including WHO and other, Côte d'Ivoire refuses to opening of its borders, and has taken draconian measures, prohibiting the entry into Ivory Coast of any person having passed through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in the past three months.
The country of the late Felix Houphouet Boigny takes the lead amongst less supportive nations of the sub - region. However, just two [later], I have personally helped to evacuate some Ivoirians living in Liberia, ensuring their passage to get on Air Morocco flight that took them to Casablanca and to Abidjan.
Three years ago, when the Ivorian rebels were using Liberian territory to launch attacks against Ivory Coast, Liberia did not hesitate to close its borders and mount a military surveillance that helped stop the warlords who led the attacks and delivered some of them to the Ivory Coast while putting others on trial. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sent me as "Chargé d'affaires" in Abidjan where I organized several meetings between Liberian and Ivorian officials and got involved in life threatening undertakings. We were able to set up and implement a strategy that worked and today, there is no military problem coming from Liberia against Côte d'Ivoire.
If the Ebola virus has made so many victims in Liberia, it is because all the country's medical structures had been destroyed by the deadly and destructive war that Charles Taylor led from Côte d'Ivoire where he used Danané as his base, with the full knowledge of the Ivorian authorities. Without this war which led to the collapse of the Liberian state, and caused the death of 300,000 people, Liberia would had the means to counter this epidemic. Apart from the destruction of the infrastructure of the country, the war has also caused a massive exodus of our educated and professional middle class: today, there are more than 3,000 doctors Liberian living in exile, mostly in the US, while there are less than a hundred doctors nationwide.
In 1993, I accompanied Interim President Amos Sawyer to Abidjan to meet with President Houphouet Boigny. Back then, the international community, including the US, the UN, ECOWAS had encouraged us to take this step: if Côte d'Ivoire were to close its borders to Charles Taylor, the war in Liberia and Sierra Leone would end. Houphouet asked Amos sawyer what he could do and Amos said: “Just shut your borders.” The response of President Houphouet, during the luncheon where Amara Essy, Minister for Foreign Affairs was also present, Houphouet said that he could not close the borders because not only he did not have the means to do so but also he could not take the responsibility to put barriers between peoples who lived in together in harmony for centuries, long before the advent of the Ivory Coast and Liberia...
Today, in a gesture of panic on hysteria, Côte d'Ivoire was the first to turn its back on its brothers and sisters of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. This is not shameful, it is simply inhuman and a myopic vision of History.
President Sirleaf who considers President Ouattara as one of his best political friends would certainly not approve this article, but I cannot help but write these words. The Ouattara government is burying its head in the sand. A one way-solidarity…