Ebola, ECOWAS, and flight bans

2 Nov

Still on the Ebola Virus Disease, a friend in Freetown got his ‪visa‬ mid August to undertake short media training in the ‪US‬. He was shocked when the airline asked him to pay how much? $4,400 for a return trip ticket between Freetown and Miami. That was in addition to the information that there was no seat throughout ‪September‬.

He hoped for a better option with time because only two airlines were operational in Sierra Leone since late July when regional flight operators from Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Senegal bowed out for Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to settle their differences with Ebola – alone.

Unfortunately, it’s been three months now. Nothing has changed except more deaths, and spiraling figures from WHO. I want to maintain that most ‪West African‬ states reacted to the ‪Ebola‬ Crisis, especially the treatment meted at countries worst hit, in an appalling manner. Cutting off air transport link with fellow regional members for instance is ‪a form of isolation contrary to the core message of integration being preached on the surface‬ by the regional bloc ‪ECOWAS‬.

I’d thought a uniform approach would have been better in this case. It wasn’t encouraging to note that ‪SADC‬ mandated its member states not to restrict flights/passengers from the ECOWAS region until they were later forced to do so. I take it that the initial cut off of flights from within the ‪ECOWAS‬ region set the precedence for operators outside the region to follow suit.

Mind you, I have no qualm with individual nations making decisions for the safety of their citizens but I am certain that the ‪EU‬, which the ECOWAS tends to ‪‎model‬, won’t allow ‪‎individual‬ ‪states‬ to take such ‪steps in a similar situation‬.

I think the ECOWAS should do more as a ‪regional‬ body in a situation like this.

Many West Africans suffered for the carelessness of their leaders and what I now consider their misplaced confidence in ECOWAS in the last three months. The regional body was not at hand to seek their well-being. Rather, it was there fanning the heat on leaders who have failed in the discharge of their duties.

I support that there could have been a better way to tackle the ‪‎Ebola‬ issue head-on without the flight ban if ECOWAS had advocated for two heads to be used instead of one and not ridiculed its reputation by allowing countries like ‪Sierra Leone‬ and ‪‎Liberia‬ to be isolated in a tight corner.

Eventually, my friend missed the training. It was really unfair. The Ebola Crisis has dealt me an unfair blow too. Check my next post, you’ll love it.

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