Home' Greymouth Star : July 15th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, July 15, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1099 - Three years after the First Crusade set
out, the Christian army storms Jerusalem and
puts Muslim inhabitants to the sword.
1685 - Duke of Monmouth is beheaded in
England for his part in rebellion.
1789 - France’s King Louis XVI is awakened
and told his authority has collapsed with the
fall of the Bastille.
1857 - British women and
children, taken by Indians at
Cawnpore in India, are murdered.
1869 - Margarine is patented in
France by Hippolyte Mege Mouries.
1916 - Boeing Co, originally
known as Pacific Aero Products, is
founded by William Boeing.
1953 - Infamous murderer John Christie is
1985 - A gaunt-looking Rock Hudson
appears at a news conference with actress
Doris Day to promote her cable television
programme. It’s later revealed Hudson was
suffering from Aids.
1990 - Death of British film actress Margaret
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Rembrandt (Rembrandt Harmes van Rijn),
Dutch artist (1606-1669); Iris Murdoch,
Irish-born writer (1919-1999); Jacques
Derrida, French philosopher (1930-2004);
Millie Jackson, US singer (1944-
); Jan-Michael Vincent, US actor
(1944-); Linda Ronstadt, US singer
(1946-); Jesse Ventura, US actor-
wrestler turned politician (1951-);
Steve Mortimer, former Australian
rugby league player (1956-); Brigitte
Nielsen, Danish actress (1963-);
Brian Austin Green, US actor (1973-); Diane
Kruger, German actress and former fashion
model (1976-) .
“ It is astonishing what force, purity, and
wisdom it requires for a human being to
keep clear of falsehoods.” — Margaret Fuller,
American journalist and social critic (1810-
“ While the earth remaineth, seed time and
har vest, and cold and heat, and summer and
winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
— (Genesis 8:22).
are not taking topless
dresses seriously. Most
feel this is too small
and personal a town to take up the new trend.
There was an overall feeling that Greymouth
would be much like Nelson where a store was
threatened with a boycott if it went ahead
with plans to show a topless dress on a dummy
There have been inquiries for topless dresses
here — in spite of the weather. But most
drapers who have had them are pretty sure that
they were practical jokes.
Even an increased salary offer is not enough
to coax a new engineer to Greymouth, it
seems. At last month’s meeting the Greymouth
Borough councillors decided to increase
the value of the position to £2000, but no
firm applications have been received despite
advertising to catch the eyes of members of the
engineering profession throughout the country.
“There have been two inquiries from away.
These were more than two weeks ago and I
have heard nothing more from them since,”
said the town clerk, Mr N E Clemens today.
The Rev Brian Ashby DD, appointed fifth
Roman Catholic Bishop of Christchurch at the
weekend, has several close ties with the West
Coast. Sister Mary Placidus of the Convent
of Mercy, Greymouth and head teacher of St
Joseph’s School, Runanga is a sister of
Mr A D Ashby, former headmaster at the
Kumara School is a brother of the bishop-elect.
The Rev Father T R Hunter, of St Patrick’s
parish, Greymouth is a cousin of Dr Ashby.
Dr Ashby succeeds Bishop Joyce who died
uFood for thought
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Saliou Samb and Adam Bailes
Governments and health agencies trying
to contain the world’s deadliest ever Ebola
epidemic in West Africa fear the contagion
could be worse than reported because
suspicious locals are chasing away health
workers and shunning treatment.
From Guinea, where the four-month-old
outbreak claimed the first of more than 500
lives, to Sierra L eone, scores of patients are
hiding away, believing hospitalisation is a
In Guinea’s south-eastern Forest Region
some terrified villagers are shutting off
their communities to medical workers, even
blocking roads and downing bridges.
Over the border in Liberia’s Lofa County,
health workers trying to screen two
communities for the deadly disease were
chased off by locals armed with cutlasses,
knives, and stones, according to an internal
United Nations report.
In eastern Sierra Leone, police had to fire
tear gas to stop relatives trying to recover
bodies of Ebola victims for family burial —
a serious contagion risk — amid popular
suspicions the cadavers might be used for
experiments or macabre rituals.
“ We are seeing a lot of mistrust,
intimidation and hostility from part of
the population,” Marc Poncin, emergency
co-ordinator for medical charity Medecins
Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Guinea, told
The MSF treatment centre at Gueckedou,
650km south-east of Conakry, was
monitoring only one suspected case. Two
weeks ago it had been treating around 25
But this was not, Poncin warned, because
the disease was waning, but because he
believed dozens of suspected cases were
hiding out from medical teams in the
surrounding forest region.
“ What we are now seeing are villages
closing themselves off, not allowing us to
enter, sick people hidden in the community.
They don’t come and seek healthcare any
more,” he said. This was increasing the
risk of further propagation, adding to the
challenge for medical authorities of an
unprecedented epidemic spread across three
nations that threatens one of the poorest
regions of the world. Weak local health
systems and porous national borders were
magnifying the infection risk.
The World Health Organisation reported
on Friday a total of 888 Ebola cases
including 539 deaths since February, saying
the epidemic had surged in Liberia and
Sierra Leone and calling the situation
To handle the increased Sierra Leone
cases, MSF was doubling the number of
beds at its treatment centre in Kailahun. It
warned it was racing against time to stop
the spread of the disease and feared it was
just seeing the tip of the iceberg.
West African governments who met
under WHO auspices earlier this month
agreed a co-ordinated regional strategy
but experts say more is needed in terms of
effort, co-operation and funds.
“If we are to break the chain of Ebola
transmission, it is crucial to combat the
fear surrounding it and earn the trust of
communities,” said Manuel Fontaine,
UNICEF regional director for West and
“ We have to knock on every door, visit
every market and spread the word in every
church and every mosque,” he added.
“More people, more funds, more partners”
were urgently needed, the UN children’s
Ebola causes fever, vomiting, bleeding
and diarrhoea and was first detected in
then Zaire, now Democratic Republic of
Congo, in the mid-1970s. Spread through
contact with blood and body fluids of
infected people or animals, it is one of
the world’s deadliest viruses, killing up to
90% of those infected. Effective treatment
needs cooperation from local communities
to allow screening and contact-tracing of
suspected cases, and then their isolation in
properly equipped treatment centres.
But Poncin said people in Gueckedou
were now shunning the centre there, where
only two in 10 infected patients sur vived
“People see people arrive more or less
okay and then they die there. So they start
to mistrust the treatment
centre,” he said.
It was a similar story in
Kenema in eastern Sierra
Leone. “They think if you
go to the hospital, you will
die, like Ebola is a death
sentence,” said Red Cross
worker Augusta Boima.
In contrast, at a treatment
centre in Telimele in north
Guinea, where more trusting
patients had come for ward
earlier, the recovery rate was
higher, over 75%, Poncin
said. At roads in and out
of Kenema, a still bustling
trading town, police and
health authorities have set
up checkpoints, questioning
travellers and checking
temperatures for fever.
“People say after they
check you they will take
you to the hospital and you
will not come out again. So
this is why so many people
are afraid, why they will not
come here,” a fish trader at
the checkpoint, who asked
not to be named, told Reuters.
He complained his fish trade was “very
bad ”, because people were avoiding coming
to town, fearful of screening.
Across the three affected countries,
‘outreach’ teams are explaining the risks of
Ebola and the need for treatment. But they
are often not welcome.
At one village in Guinea’s forested
Gueckedou prefecture, locals even
dismantled a bridge to block health
workers’ vehicles, Poncin said. On another
occasion, an MSF car was surrounded by
threatening youths who came out of the
forest. In Liberia’s L ofa County, health
workers who visited two communities,
Bolongoidu and Sarkonnedu in Voinjama
district, were intercepted by village elders
and a mob of angry residents.
“They said the villagers were not
interested in messages on Ebola because
as far as they were concerned Ebola
does not exist and that they should leave
immediately or they would be beaten
up,” was how the incident was reported
back to the UN mission. Poncin said that
in Guinea’s south-eastern forest region,
where age-old animist beliefs exist side-
by-side with imported Christianity, many
locals shunned the modern world and its
medicine, preferring instead to rely on
This had led to some associating Ebola
with witchcraft and sorcery, or branding it
an evil brought in by foreigners.
Because of contagion risk, authorities
say the cadavers of Ebola victims must be
disposed of securely. But families in West
Africa, where the washing of the deceased
by family members is part of traditional
burials, often struggle to understand this.
“For us to now have to give our beloved
dead relatives away to people who will wrap
them in a plastic bag and dump them in a
grave without us washing and honouring
them is hard to stomach,” a traditional
Sierra Leone leader said, asking not to be
This incomprehension can tap into deeper
fears, still common in West Africa, of body
parts being used for ritual or magic.
“Putting people in body bags creates a lot
of suspicion in the minds of people; they
think parts of the body are being cut, and
that ’s why the body is not being allowed to
be displayed,” said Kenema health officer
Sheku Bockarie. While daily life goes on in
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, whose
people have suffered years of conflict,
poverty and disease, the Ebola fears are
affecting some social habits.
“ We have decided to ask our children to
not play with any other child because we do
not know who is the carrier. Also, I do not
shake hands. I only speak and wave,” said
Liberian mother Marie Wleh in Logan
Ebola a death sentence
Government health workers administer blood tests to check for the Ebola virus in Kenema,
s long as violence
perpetrated by Islamist
militants was more
or less contained
in Nigeria’s remote
north-east, the attitude
of many citizens and expatriates in the
more prosperous south was a shrug of the
But growing evidence that Boko Haram,
or other violent groups or individuals
inspired by it, are radiating attacks from
their north-eastern heartlands across
Africa’s most populous country has many
Nigerians feeling that nowhere is safe.
Boko Haram leader Abubabar Shekau
claimed responsibility for two blasts
minutes apart targeting a fuel depot on
June 25 in the country’s main port in
Apapa, in the commercial hub of Lagos,
saying he had sent a bomber in do it.
The blasts were almost certainly caused
by bombs, three senior security sources
and the manager of a major container
company told Reuters, and one was
most likely the work of a female suicide
bomber, although there are doubts about
whether it was Boko Haram or another
Islamist group inspired by them.
In Owerri, a city in the oil-producing
Niger Delta, a botched bomb in a
pentecostal church on June 15 before a
Sunday ser vice was due to start bore the
hallmarks of Boko Haram, one of the
security sources, who was investigating
the blast, told Reuters. Christian
worshippers have been a target of Boko
Haram Islamists for several years, but this
would be the first time the militants have
struck the strategically vital oil region.
Police have said there is no proof that
this was Boko Haram — the Delta has a
history of political and criminal thuggery
but churches in this very Christian
region were never attacked.
Add to these a string of bombings
across the north, centre and in the capital
of Africa’s biggest economy and top oil
producer, all of them well outside Boko
Haram’s main area of operations in Borno
state, and a pattern emerges.
Some officials say Boko Haram, which
made world headlines with the abduction
of 200 schoolgirls in April, want to relieve
pressure on itself in the north-east, where
it has tried to car ve out a de facto Islamic
Others say Boko Haram’s ambitions
never were confined just to the historical
Islamic caliphates of the north.
“Not once has Boko Haram said it
wants a caliphate just in the north.
“They see their constituency as Muslims
everywhere,” said Fatima Akilu, director
of behavioural analysis in Nigeria’s
national counter-terrorism unit.
“It’s not a geographic caliphate with a
boundary that ends in the north.”
The charred, bloodied wreckage of a
bomb blast outside Abuja’s Ebam Plaza
in the upmarket Wuse II district late
last month has mostly been cleaned
up, though the building’s gate remains
locked. Police said the final death toll was
Shekau claimed that one, too, in
his video. Boko Haram was seen as
a “northern problem” until a bomber
attacked Abuja’s police headquarters
in June 2011, killing several people in
Nigeria’s first recorded suicide attack.
Two months later a suicide truck bomb
targeting the UN headquarters in Abuja
killed 25 people.
But from mid-2012 the insurgents
seemed to lose interest in staging attacks
outside their core area of operations,
preferring to consolidate their power base
in the north-east.
A military offensive since May last year
that was meant to dismantle their hold
on the northeast changed that dynamic,
prompting the insurgency to mutate in
two ways: brutal attacks on civilians in
the region dramatically surged, and efforts
to strike out in areas far from the rebels’
As bombs spread across the country,
there has also been a marked increase in
deadly attacks blamed on Fulani cattle
herders, especially easterly Benue and
Taraba states, but which some officials
suspect might be linked to Boko Haram.
Hundreds of settled farming peoples
have been killed in night-time raids by
heavily armed gangs in the past four
months. Some of these attacks were so
unusually brutal, in some cases including
gunning down dozens of people as they
fled and burning churches, they look
more like the Islamists, the military says.
Defence Spokesman Major-General
Chris Olukolade said in April that
forces had engaged “a group of terrorists
operating under the guise of herdsmen” in
Taraba state. They arrested some.
Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue
state said attacks that killed more than
200 people there in March were being
carried out by people with sophisticated
weapons, not the homemade shotguns
traditionally used by Fulani herders.
“The attacks are at night, the victims
terrified. They don’t know if they are
Fulani or not,” a military source told
“ We think this is something else.”
Boko Haram are mostly from the
Kanuri ethnic group, it is unclear if some
Fulani cattle keepers have been infiltrated.
A deadly attack on a bus park on the
outskirts of Abuja in April, less than a
month before Nigeria was due to host
the World Economic Forum, and another
two since, killed scores and left little
doubt of a concerted effort to target the
Police said on Saturday they had
uncovered a plot to bomb the transport
network, using suicide bombers and
devices concealed in luggage at major bus
Sometimes attacks have seemed
calculated to stoke ethnic or sectarian
conflict, such as one in May in the central
city of Jos, a tinderbox of such tensions,
that killed 118 people.
That one failed to ignite tit-for-tat
A similar effort in Lagos may be more
successful, says Akindele.
The even balance of power in Jos
keeps revenge in check, but Lagos is
over whelmingly Yoruba. T
hey would have less to fear from
counter-reprisals if they took out their
anger on northerners.
The target of the Lagos bombs was a
fuel depot which, had it gone up, would
have caused a massive chain explosion
and disrupted Nigeria’s mostly imported
At least two people were killed. Police
said it was an accident involving a gas
canister, but the security sources say that
was a cover-up — as did Shekau in his
If confirmed to be Boko Haram the
ramifications are huge, both because
Lagos is an international business hub
and because it is a usually peaceful if at
times uneasy melting pot of ethnicities
from the mostly Christian south and
Muslim north. Yorubas are split evenly
between Muslims and Christians, but
in past unrest with northerners, ethnic
loyalties trumped religion.
“The Lagos government ’s very worried
. .. Lagos has a history of ethnic clashes,
between (northern) Hausa and (southern
Yoruba),” said Kayode Akindele, partner
at Lagos-based consultancy 46 Parallels.
“There’s a danger of that, if there’s a
serious loss of life. Lagos state also doesn’t
want to put off the investment world,” he
Versions of exactly what happened at
One account is that a female suicide
bomber blew herself up in a car, while
another improvised device was thrown a
few minutes earlier.
Both were near fuel tankers at a depot.
But security sources say a more credible
version was that the first bomb was a car
bomb — photos of a mangled chassis
have circulated in some local press —
while the suicide bomber was on foot.
Unverified pictures of her severed head,
usually evidence of a suicide vest, have
“The suicide bomber is much less
certain because it’s focused on eyewitness
“ We don’t have any permanent
evidence,” Thomas Hansen of Control
Risks consultancy said.
The amateur nature of the apparent
suicide attack — she blew up a few
hundred metres before anywhere that
could have done damage, though no one
intercepted her — suggests she had not
had expert training, one security source
says, but Boko Haram would still want to
claim it to spread fear.
“Our impression is ... a local faction
inspired by Boko Haram that has
attempted to target the fuel supply chain,
not operating under direct command and
control,” said Hansen.
Control by fear
Members of the violent Boko Haram
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