Ebola outbreak: Liberia 'sacks absentee officials'

Food delivered in Monrovia, 12 Sept Image copyright PA
Image caption Food aid is delivered to some of the thousands of people affected by Ebola in Liberia

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sacked 10 government officials who have been "out of the country without an excuse," amid a national Ebola crisis.

She said the officials had shown "insensitivity to our national tragedy and disregard for authority".

The 10 were given a one-week ultimatum more than a month ago to return home.

Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are the worst-hit countries in an outbreak that has killed more than 2,400.

More than half of those killed by the Ebola virus have been in Liberia.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption More than half of all people killed by the latest Ebola virus outbreak in 2014 have been in Liberia

The 10 officials include two commissioners, six assistant ministers and two deputy ministers at the justice ministry, Wheatonia Dixon-Barns and Victoria Sherman-Lang.

The BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh says a press release issued from the presidency on Saturday reported that the officials had been fired "with immediate effect".

Eight junior officials have also been warned to return to the country, and will not be paid until they do.

"Junior officials will forfeit all compensation until they return home to join in the fight against the Ebola virus disease," the presidency said.

One is Christine Tolbert-Norman, the eldest daughter of the late former President William Tolbert who was killed in a coup in 1980.

Liberia at a glance:

Image copyright EPA
  • Infrastructure devastated by a 14-year civil war
  • About 250,000 people killed in the conflict that ended in 2003
  • One doctor to treat nearly 100,000 people before Ebola outbreak
  • Ebola cases this year: 2,046
  • Ebola deaths this year: 1,224
  • Population: 4.4 million

Source: WHO

President Johnson Sirleaf has appealed directly to US President Barack Obama for urgent help in tackling the outbreak.

In a letter dated 9 September she asks Mr Obama to build and operate at least one Ebola treatment centre in the capital, Monrovia.

"Without more direct help from your government, we will lose this battle against Ebola," she writes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned recently that thousands more cases could occur in Liberia.

Ebola spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.

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