Fear of Ebola causes drop in young volunteers heading to Africa

Charity group says numbers have dropped by more than a half

A fear of contracting Ebola is discouraging young people from travelling to Africa to do volunteer work. Aid organisation Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke (MS) said that it has seen a decline of nearly 60 percent in the last four months.

“We can feel that over the last few months there is a marked fall in the number of people who want to go to Africa,” Vibeke Vinther, MS country head, told DR Nyheder.

“There has also been a rise in the number of people who call and ask about Ebola, and we know that for every person who calls, there are many who haven’t called but have simply given up on the idea.”

MS sends about 800 young people annually to do volunteer work among the world's poor. Usually, about 600 of those go to countries in Africa.

Ebola not in the east
Although she understands the concerns, Vinther stressed that MS volunteers go primarily to eastern African countries like Kenya and Tanzania and not to western Africa where – specifically in the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia – Ebola has now killed more than 4,000 people.

“It is certainly understandable that people are concerned about Ebola – we all are,” she said.

“I would just remind people to look at how large the continent of Africa is and recognise where the infection is located.”

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She said there are no specific alerts concerning Ebola in those countries where MS sends its volunteers.

“I think it is important that young people get out into the world, and they should travel to those countries that are considered safe,” she said.