By Gerd Meuer
As Ebola keeps spreading across West Africa, more and more governments are deciding to close their airports to flights from affected countries. Some countries have also declared their will to close their land orders, whereas in other countries entire regions have been cordoned off.
This writer is tempted to state that those measures are most useless. And he pretends to know why … having crossed those official, artificial borders, as created by the 1884/85 Berlin conference, several hundred times since 1962. Yes, there is an official border between Togo and Ghana right in the middle between Lome/Togo and Aflao/Ghana. In times of political turmoil in either Togo or Ghana this border has been closed umpteen times. But then people simply crossed the border only a few hundred yards northward; and this all the way for hundreds of miles to Burkina Faso … If only to beat those ‚way-layers in uniform‘ (Nigerian idiom) at the official border points.
Between Mauritania in the North and Angola in the South millions of people are thus crossing those borders with their wares/products, be they foodstuffs, textiles or spare-parts.
Any efficient CONTROL? Simply impossible. Just as well, since those commercial exchanges are vital to people on both sides of those borders, even for plain survival. This almost ‚free exchange of goods‘, especially of local foodstuffs, is a MUST. You stop it and you provoke massive shortages on both sides.
To which shortages you must add – in the Nigerian case – those shortages already provoked by the massive flight of farmers – and traders – from the BOKO HARAM raiders In Northern Nigeria and the neighbouring states of Cameroun, Chad and Niger, regions where food shortages are already rampant.
It is a catastrophe now being worsened by EBOLA – a catastrophe which so far goes rather UN-reported.
Gerd Meuer is formerly a German radio correspondent in West Africa