AU Somalia mission suspends troop deployment from Ebola-affected Sierra Leone
MOGADISHU, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on Saturday said it has put on hold the deployment of peacekeepers from the West Africa nation of Sierra Leone due to the outbreak of the deadliest ever Ebola virus.
AMISOM said in a statement that the measure to put "on hold" the deployment of troops from Sierra Leone was a "cautionary measure" and that "there was no cause for alarm."
"The deployment of the Republic of Sierra Leone's Leo Battalion II which was due in July remains on hold at the moment," according to the statement.
The Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in February this year and spread to West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, and the latter two were among the troop contributing countries to AU's Somalia mission.
AMISOM said it treats the spread of the Ebola virus into Nigeria and Sierra Leone "with utmost gravity and diligence", despite the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) has not issued travel restrictions for the affected area in West Africa.
Prior to the deployment, troops need to undergo extensive medical evaluation and routine screening and check-ups in mission area to ensure optimum health standards of the peacekeeping forces, according to the AMISOM.
AU Somalia mission said it was coordinating with Somali government and the WHO on pre-emptive measures to deal with any eventuality, including "establishing an isolation ward at AMISOM hospital and stocking of personal protection gear".
However, steps to deal with any possible Ebola incidence in Somalia is mainly precautionary at this stage.