Geneva: The UN announced Thursday that it is drawing up guidelines to prevent human rights violations in health quarantine for people suspected of having contracted the deadly Ebola virus.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein said his office was establishing guidelines under which mandatory health quarantines could be imposed.

Quarantine can easily constitute a violation of numerous human rights if imposed and enforced unjustly, he noted.

He added that imposing criminal punishments in the context of the fight against Ebola might have the opposite result, driving people in danger of contracting the disease underground.

The Jordanian official also compared Ebola with the Islamic State (IS) terrorists who have taken control of vast areas in Iraq and Syria and described them as “twin plagues”.

Both emerged quietly and were neglected by a world that knew they existed but misread their terrible potential before exploding into global consciousness during the latter months of 2014, he said.

He added the Ebola outbreaks in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea amount to a violation of human rights because ignoring people’s rights to education, health, sanitation, development and good governance played a part in the crisis.

The UN official defended the need to respect human rights during the struggle against Ebola, saying that the viral disease flourishes at the intersection of poverty, the inability to deliver adequate public services and a lack of trust towards government authorities.

Al-Hussein also stressed the importance of not making distinctions between Ebola patients and other people who have not contracted the disease.

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