WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Since the start of the Ebola crisis in Liberia, IREX has been working with its partners to get out responsible and accurate information and promote a better understanding of proper prevention measures. With much of the attention focused on containment and treatment, IREX, through the USAID funded Civil Society and Media Leadership (CSML) Program, seeks to draw attention to another factor, the potential for civil unrest.
There's widespread distrust among many citizens that the virus exists, and with a State of Emergency in place and many communities quarantined, there's growing concern that people may resort to violence to express their frustration. This situation is compounded by lack of access to food and other necessities in some quarantined areas.
The network of capable and professional civil society organizations and media outlets that the CSML program has built over the last four years is working together for timely information sharing and coordinated, complementary activities.
In the coming days, IREX and partners will organize a series of meetings with community leaders in Montserrado County, one of the hardest hit areas thus far. The meetings will help gauge the concerns and fears of citizens as they relate to Ebola and discuss the risks of civil unrest and potential strategies to ensure that citizens' opinions are heard without resorting to violence. Two partners, the Liberia Women Media Action Committee (LIWOMAC) and the Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP) worked with the Ministry of Information and Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to develop targeted Ebola-awareness messages for use in public service announcements and radio dramas distributed via national and community radio stations. IREX is working with journalists to ensure that their Ebola coverage is factual, professional, and does not feed unrest within a frightened population.
Liberians have demonstrated extraordinary resilience in the face of historical social and economic inequalities and a brutal 14-year civil war. Now, the continued spread of Ebola is the most dire health crisis in their history. It will take continued resilience of the people, the combined effort of government, civil society, media, the private sector, and the international community to combat this crisis. IREX and more than 90 civil society and media partners are there to help Liberia overcome this crisis.