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Photographer covering Ebola: The world must see

In this Friday Sept. 26, 2014 file photo, Ethel Konneh, left, is consoled by her daughters outside the Island Clinic Ebola isolation and treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia, after she learned her other daughter Rose past away from Ebola. The outbreak of Ebola has overwhelmed the weak health systems of some of the world's poorest countries: There aren't enough doctors and nurses or even clinics to treat the spiraling number of cases.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File
October 05, 2014 - 1:05 PM

MONROVIA, Liberia - The biggest danger in a war zone is not seeing the enemy.

What people face here in Liberia is a war, and no one has seen the enemy.

From the balcony of the hotel that has become the de facto international Ebola crisis headquarters here, the ballet of fancy SUVs never stops. They are ferrying U.N. officials, U.S. military brass, diplomats and foreign journalists.

But never do we see the vehicles of the few non-governmental organizations present in Monrovia, for they are out in the field, along with the under-equipped ambulances and burial teams, at work 24/7 to try to put an end to the Ebola outbreak.

Covering such a virulent disease is a first for me.

I am used to bearing witness to conflicts around the continent, where I fear bullets and machetes. Here, I fear for my health. No level of protection can make you invincible.

Packing for this assignment, I traded my flak jacket and ballistic helmet for protective suits, rubber boots, gloves, goggles and enough chlorine to sanitize a 50,000 liter swimming pool.

Just like in a war zone, you try not to put yourself into a situation where you absolutely need the equipment. Here, constant spraying of chlorine and washing hands and feet to the point of obsession is the norm.

I don't want to photograph dead bodies. I want to concentrate on the living. Here, as in a war zone, they are the ones most affected. Here, like in conflict, the poor and defenseless are paying the price.

Here, like there, you try to tell a story that will have an impact and bring the ones who can act to act.

Many great visual storytellers have done tremendous work here. I just added my small part. I am leaving now, carrying the fear of the plague, monitoring my temperature constantly, and panicking at every little cough, ache or sweat.

Others are coming in to continue telling the plight of the people of Liberia. There are journalists of all media who think telling the story of humanity is well worth the risk. For without that, there is no humanity.

Children walk in the St Paul's Bridge neighborhood of Monrovia, Liberia.
Children walk in the St Paul's Bridge neighborhood of Monrovia, Liberia.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File

Bystanders listen to a street preacher calling on people to raise their hands.
Bystanders listen to a street preacher calling on people to raise their hands.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File

Residents of the St. Paul Bridge neighbourhood take a man suspected of carrying the Ebola virus to the Island Clinic.
Residents of the St. Paul Bridge neighbourhood take a man suspected of carrying the Ebola virus to the Island Clinic.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File

Children pray during Sunday service at the Bridgeway Baptist Church in Monrovia, Liberia.
Children pray during Sunday service at the Bridgeway Baptist Church in Monrovia, Liberia.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File

A man too weak to walk arrives at the MSF Ebola isolation and treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia.
A man too weak to walk arrives at the MSF Ebola isolation and treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File

An MSF nurse is prepared with Personal Protection Equipment before entering a high risk zone of MSF's Ebola isolation and treatment centre.
An MSF nurse is prepared with Personal Protection Equipment before entering a high risk zone of MSF's Ebola isolation and treatment centre.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File

An MSF employee walks past drying safety boots at MSF's Ebola isolation and treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia.
An MSF employee walks past drying safety boots at MSF's Ebola isolation and treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File

Residents watch members of the ambulance service disinfect a room as they pick up six suspected Ebola sufferers.
Residents watch members of the ambulance service disinfect a room as they pick up six suspected Ebola sufferers.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File

Mercy Kennedy, 9, cries a day after her mother was taken away by an ambulance to an Ebola ward.
Mercy Kennedy, 9, cries a day after her mother was taken away by an ambulance to an Ebola ward.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File

Miamu Saryon, 7, stands in the hallway of Mawah clinic downtown Monrovia, Liberia.
Miamu Saryon, 7, stands in the hallway of Mawah clinic downtown Monrovia, Liberia.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File

News from © The Associated Press, 2014
The Associated Press

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