By Isla Binnie and Emma Farge ROME/DAKAR Tue Sep 2, 2014 2:14pm EDT
Health workers wearing protective clothing prepare themselves before to carrying an abandoned dead body presenting with Ebola symptoms at Duwala market in Monrovia August 17, 2014. Credit: Reuters/2Tango
(Reuters) – The world’s worst Ebola epidemic has endangered harvests and sent food prices soaring in West Africa, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Tuesday, warning the problem would intensify in coming months.
The FAO issued a special alert for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three countries most affected by the outbreak, which has killed at least 1,550 people since the virus was detected in the remote jungles of southeastern Guinea in March.
Restrictions on people’s movements and the establishment of quarantine zones to contain the spread of the hemorrhagic fever have led to panic buying, food shortages and price hikes in countries ill-prepared to absorb the shock.
“In the three countries severely affected by Ebola, the agriculture and food security situation is really deteriorating,” said Vincent Martin, head of an FAO unit in Dakar that is coordinating the agency’s response.