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FRONTLINE: Ebola Outbreak

Ebola virus. From the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak, FRONTLINE follows health officials tracking the deadly disease and trying to stop its rampant spread.
Courtesy of CDC
Ebola virus. From the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak, FRONTLINE follows health officials tracking the deadly disease and trying to stop its rampant spread.

Airs Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014 at 10 p.m. & Friday, Sept. 12 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

In a late-breaking, two-part special, FRONTLINE investigates two of the biggest stories out of Africa in recent months: the largest Ebola outbreak on record, and Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram — the Islamist militant group that kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls in April.

First, in "Ebola Outbreak," FRONTLINE (in collaboration with the Channel 4 foreign affairs series Unreported World) travels to the epicenter of the Ebola crisis to see firsthand how and why the outbreak has spiraled out of control — and to meet the families being devastated by the deadly virus, and the health workers trying to stop it.

“We spent more than two weeks on the ground in Sierra Leone, and we were stunned by what we saw,” says producer Wael Dabbous. “This time — unlike in past Ebola outbreaks — the virus has spread so rapidly, to so many people, that traditional modes of containment can’t keep up. Local hospitals are overwhelmed and barely functioning because so many doctors and nurses have died.”

FRONTLINE goes inside an emergency field hospital run by Doctors Without Borders, where the morgue is overflowing, and victims keep on coming. FRONTLINE also follows an investigator from Sierra Leone’s Ebola surveillance unit, who despite the risks, travels into villages looking for victims — and trying to identify and isolate everyone they might have come into contact with.

“People are dying left and right here,” says Sebastian Stein, who is part of the team at Doctors Without Borders’ emergency field hospital. “The symptoms are awful. The suffering of the patients is beyond speaking about … this is going to continue to grow, I’m afraid.”

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"Hunting Boko Haram." You’ve heard of Boko Haram, the radical Islamist group that kidnapped nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls in April — sparking international outrage and worldwide pressure to #BringBackOurGirls.

But now, FRONTLINE investigates evidence that in the fight against Boko Haram, members of the Nigerian military and state-sponsored militias have been committing atrocities against suspects, many of them innocent civilians.

“We’ve uncovered shocking and horrific videos showing the arrests, torture and summary executions of people accused of being Boko Haram,” says FRONTLINE producer Evan Williams.

In effect, the government’s crackdown has “reached a point where people couldn’t even define and clearly draw a line between the wanton violence and evil unleashed by the insurgents, and the acts of brutality committed by the security forces against innocent persons,” prominent Nigerian human rights campaigner Shehu Sani tells FRONTLINE.

“Nigerian officials have denied human rights violations and cited instances where Boko Haram have worn military uniforms while committing atrocities,” Williams says. “But this footage — as well as eyewitness testimony and firsthand accounts from militia insiders — raises deeply troubling questions about the nature of the Nigerian government’s crackdown.”

In the meantime, the majority of the kidnapped girls remain missing.

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Experience powerful investigative storytelling that answers only to you. From criminal justice to politics to global issues, the reporting of PBS’ flagship public affairs series, FRONTLINE, takes you inside the controversial, complex stories shaping our times.