Speed Reads


Liberian president begs Obama for help combating Ebola outbreak

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday, pleading with him to provide more support in the country's fight against the ongoing Ebola crisis.

"I am being honest with you when I say that at this rate, we will never break the transmission chain and the virus will overwhelm us," she wrote. Sirleaf added in a later interview that a health expert from French group Doctors Without Borders told her, "We're French. You've got America behind you; why should we have to do this for you?"

The New York Times notes that Liberia, a country founded by freed American slaves, is viewed by Western nations as the United States' responsibility in the Ebola crisis. Britain has thrown its support behind former colony Sierra Leone, while France is concentrating its efforts on former colony Guinea.

The Obama administration announced this week that the American military would create and facilitate a 25-bed hospital to treat health care workers in Liberia — hardly a drop in the bucket for a country that has already seen more than 1,000 people die of the virus. But an administration official said the first response is "the floor…not the ceiling," in terms of American assistance in Liberia.

Health experts say military assistance is necessary to bring the outbreak under control, as it provides organization and attention to protocol at treatment centers. President Sirleaf has asked America to set up and operate "at least one" facility in Monrovia, a densely populated Liberian neighborhood that has been hit especially hard by the Ebola virus.