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As Ebola Grips Liberia, Quarantine Sows Social Chaos

Norimitsu Onishi | THE NEW YORK TIMES   in 
August 29, 2014

The quarantine of West Point has added to the chaos of the outbreak. Residents of the neighborhood shouted their grievances at an entourage member of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who toured the area this week. Photo by Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times.

MONROVIA, Liberia — Some people are swimming in and out of the Ebola quarantine zone in this seaside capital. One man slips out every day to reach his job at a Western embassy. Another has turned his living room into a tollbooth, charging others to escape through his apartment at the edge of the cordoned area. Countless others have used a different method: bribing their way out with fees that soldiers determine according to a person’s appearance, circumstances and even gender.

Christian Verre, 26, a clothing salesman, sneaked out through an abandoned building with his girlfriend, Alice Washington, 21, and eight friends. “Go back! Go back!” soldiers and police officers yelled, he recalled, but the conversation quickly took on a different turn: “What do you got?”

Those carrying goods handed over more than $8, Mr. Verre said. Traveling light, he was charged $4.25 for his girlfriend and about $6 for himself, “because I’m a man.” The couple now share a shack a few blocks outside West Point, the vast, sprawling slum that was placed under an Ebola quarantine last week.


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