The Liberian military have encircled the sprawling West Point slum in Liberian capital Monrovia, with barbed wire to keep the residents inside. The barriers appeared without warning overnight and, coupled with armed soldiers instructed to "shoot to kill," and the use of tear gas to control increasingly angry crowds, has effectively sealed off the slum to all but the most determined escapees.

West Point borders the ocean, and the coastguard are patrolling the sewage-filled waters just off the coast to make sure nobody tries to get out that way.

Deliveries are not being allowed into the area, and residents, most of whom have no electricity, and therefore no refrigeration, are unable to buy food as the shops in the area run out of supplies. Those who work outside the cordon and on enforced furlough, with no knowledge of when they will be able to return to their jobs, or even if employers will still allow them back to work when the barricades are removed.

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The move is a direct response to the looting and rioting surrounding an isolation clinic in West Point. Contaminated bedding and clothing was taken, as was medical equipment. Fearing the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the area, the Liberian government sealed off the overcrowded slum.

The movement ban doesn't apply to everyone though…the family of Maita Flowers, a government official, were given a military escort out of the slum by security forces yesterday. It seems that, even when dealing with a deadly virus, it's a case of not what you know, but who you know.


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