Japan aid agency pulls staff from Ebola-hit nations

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - 16:31

Tokyo: Japan`s foreign aid agency said today it was evacuating two dozen staff from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, as the death toll from the Ebola virus continued to mount.

The move came as eight Chinese medical workers who treated patients suffering from the virus were placed in quarantine in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone, as well as Guinea and Liberia, has been at the centre of the outbreak.

"We expect they will complete the evacuation from the region within a few days," said Yuho Hayakawa, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

None had been placed in quarantine, he added.

"No one is showing symptoms. They were not in any high-risk situations, where they would come into close contact with patients," he added.

Japan`s foreign aid body has permanent offices in Liberia and Sierra Leone, which will continue to be managed by local staff, Hayakawa said.

The 24 staff being pulled out include agriculture, health, and infrastructure building experts, he said.
The latest World Health Organization data showed that the virus has killed 1,013 victims and infected another 1,848 people.

The fatalities include 52 deaths recorded between August 7-9 in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the data.

US reassures China as 2,500 Marines head to Australia
Sydney: The United States stressed today it welcomes the rise of China and wants to work constructively with Beijing as it signed a deal to deploy 2,500 Marines to Australia as part of its "rebalance" to Asia.

China bristled when the agreement to deploy Marines to the northern city of Darwin was first announced by President Barack Obama in 2011.

But after signing the deal at the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in Sydney, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was not interested in conflict with the Asian powerhouse.
"We welcome the rise of China as a global partner, hopefully as a powerful economy, as a full participating constructive member of the international community," he said.

"We are not seeking conflict and confrontation. And our hope is that China will likewise take advantage of the opportunities that are in front of it and be that cooperative partner."

Australia`s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop earlier defended the deal to bring US Marines and Air Force personnel to the Northern Territory, denying it was aimed at China which is embroiled in maritime disputes with neighbours.
"That`s not what it is directed to do at all. It`s about working closely with the United States to ensure that we can work on regional peace and security," she told a radio programme.

"The United States is rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific so it`s ways we can work together to support economic development as well as security and peace."

After the talks Bishop, who also hosted US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, said the discussions were broad - ranging from tensions on the Korean peninsula to the crisis in Ukraine and to conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan.

The threat of foreign jihadist militants fighting in these conflicts and then returning home radicalised was also explored. The US and Australia agreed to raise the issue at the United Nations.

Kerry said this problem, highlighted by images in local media of the seven-year-old son of an Australian jihadist in Syria holding a severed head, underscored the degree to which Islamic State fighters were "so far beyond the pale".

"This image, perhaps even an iconic photograph, is really one of the most disturbing, stomach-turning, grotesque photos ever displayed," Kerry said.

"It`s no accident that every country in the region is opposed to ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant)."

Bishop made no comment about the prospect of an increased US military presence beyond the Marines, some 1,200 of whom are already in the country.

AFP

First Published: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - 16:31

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