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West Africa Ebola outbreak – preserving life after death  

IMG_2345Ebola has no sympathy. In life, it causes untold suffering; in death, it robs you of your dignity.

Where normally the deceased in West Africa could expect a traditional burial, Ebola has denied them that privilege.

Those who have succumbed to Ebola, remain infectious. Instead of a funeral attended by friends and family, theirs is now a discreet burial carried out by men in white overalls wearing masks. They’re buried in body bags, not one, but two.

It’s a morbid task, one that is being carried out by teams of Red Cross workers.

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The search to reunite families separated by conflict in South Sudan

South-Sudan-RFL-2

You’re at home when you hear the cackle of gunfire followed by shouts and screams.

You run out of your house, grabbing what few possessions you can. Along with your siblings and your father, you flee into the bush.

But you have to leave your grandmother behind; she’s too frail to travel. And your mother? She was at market. When she gets home, all that remains is the charred remnants of what used to be her home.

What do you do? You’re too frightened to go back to your village. So you stay in the bush, searching for food to survive.

Eventually, after weeks without shelter, you arrive at a camp for people displaced by fighting.

You’re given food and shelter, but all you want to know is what’s happened to your mum and grandmother. You hear that the Red Cross could help.

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What is it like to have Ebola and survive?

©IFRC/IdrissaSoumare

©IFRC/IdrissaSoumare

“Now they call me anti-Ebola,” said Saa Sabas. He is a lucky man, and he knows it. The father-of-two, from Guinea, is one of a handful of people to survive Ebola. 

It is an especially virulent disease. The current outbreak continues to spread in West Africa and has so-far claimed more than 500 lives, according to the World Health Organisation. 

The outbreak began in Guinea, in March, and has since spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. A lack of knowledge and understanding about the disease meant that it spread quickly, particularly among health workers and those caring for the sick. This is exactly how Saa became infected.  

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Three years after independence, crisis casts a shadow over South Sudan celebrations

South Sudan is three years old tomorrow. Click on this interactive image to find out more about the crisis and read a piece from British Red Cross press officer Henry Makiwa, who has spent the last week in the war-torn country.

The roads are being scrubbed clean and pavements are getting a shiny new coat of paint. On one of the city’s biggest intersections, two young men draped in the country’s colours stand along the roadside selling miniature versions of the national flag. Welcome to Juba, South Sudan.

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Ebola virus disease explained: Q&A

©IFRC/IdrissaSoumare

©IFRC/IdrissaSoumare

An outbreak of Ebola has left more than 450 people dead in West Africa. The Red Cross, along with other humanitarian agencies, is working to stop the spread of the deadly and highly contagious disease.

What is the Ebola virus?

Ebola virus disease is a severe and often fatal illness – outbreaks have a fatality rate of up to 90 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Outbreaks occur predominately in remote villages in Central and West Africa near tropical rainforests.

The first incidence of Ebola was in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks: in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, a village in the Democratic Republic of Congo close to the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

The origin of the virus is unknown. This is the first time the disease has appeared in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

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Treating the sick and wounded in South Sudan

©ICRC/CamilleLepage

©ICRC/CamilleLepage

Dr Frank Ryding never complains anymore. In a career that has spanned the best part of 35 years, he has travelled the world following conflicts and natural disasters with the Red Cross.

He is accustomed to working in trying, dangerous and desperate situations. He knows what it is to be on the edge of life.    

The 65-year-old has just returned from four weeks working as an anaesthetist in South Sudan with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and yet another insight into a bloody conflict.

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“Life is so bad out there, you just survive. People are living from one day to the next,” said Frank, who has completed 14 missions with the Red Cross.

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South Sudan Red Cross fights cholera outbreak

An outbreak of cholera in South Sudan has infected hundreds of people and raised fears of an epidemic. The Red Cross is working to prevent further infections among an already vulnerable population. Maria Nilsson, from the Swedish Red Cross, explains how volunteers are helping.    

©SwedishRedCross/MariaNilsson

©SwedishRedCross/MariaNilsson

South Sudan Red Cross volunteers are at the forefront of the fight to stop an outbreak of cholera in the capital Juba. The disease has so far claimed 14 lives.    More

Teen lifesaver supports campaign for young volunteers

Dionne with HRH Prince Charles, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and young volunteers.

Dionne (holding the ‘up’ sign) at the campaign launch with Nick Clegg, David Cameron, HRH Prince Charles, Ed Miliband and young volunteers.

Dionne Burns saved a man’s life as a Red Cross first aid volunteer when she was 17 years old. Here she explains why volunteering still gives her such a buzz – and why she is encouraging other young people to take part in a brand new campaign.

Being a Red Cross first aider is always interesting – you never know what you are going to be dealing with. When I joined as a young 16-year-old girl, I never expected that in a few years’ time I’d be chatting with Prince Charles in Buckingham Palace!

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