US and UK responses to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa

The US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has announced his decision to designate Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. This is in consequence to the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa. As a result, eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone who are currently residing in the United States may apply for TPS with US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The designations mean that eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in one of those three countries) will not be removed from the United States and are authorised to work.

The UK Home Office have a different view. The Home Office does not consider it is appropriate to introduce a concession to grant leave because of the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone. The Home Office goes on to state that an individual should not be granted asylum soley on the grounds that they fear returning to a place where Ebola is prevalent.

However, the Home Office accepts that the outbreak has had a significant impact on the healthcare systems in the countries affected - diverting resources away from the treatment of non-Ebola related diseases. Therefore, a claim that a person may face a breach of Article 3 of the ECHR on return to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, based on serious illness should be carefully considered.

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