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AU announces solidarity conference for Ebola affected countries

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union, convening at the level of Heads of State and Government, has mandated the African Union Commission to work in collaboration with the UN Economic Commission of Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB)   to convene an African Solidarity Conference (ASC) to mobilize support for post-epidemic reconstruction and cancellation of external debt of Liberia and other countries affected by the Ebola Virus Disease.

In a communiqué issued on the Ebola Virus Outbreak at the end of its 484th Meeting held on Thursday, January 29, 2015, where President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was represented by Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, the Council noted with satisfaction the improvement of the situation in the Ebola-affected countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as the declaration of the Republic of Mali as Ebola-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 19 January 2015.

The Council however noted that, in spite of this progress, a number of challenges remain that require continued mobilization and therefore stressed the need for renewed commitment in the fight against the epidemic and mobilization of additional resources, in order to among other things, effectively support the health workers on the ground and the efforts of the region, as well as those countries most affected by the Ebola epidemic.

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Meanwhile, the AU Peace and Security Council has also stressed the need to avoid any stigmatization, discrimination and isolation of both the people and the countries most affected by Ebola.  Accordingly, the Council has called on AU Member States that have not done so, to immediately lift all travel bans and restrictions and to respect the principle of free movement, as well as to take the required steps for the resumption of flights to those countries, consistent with decision of the AU Executive Council Decision of September 8, 2014), scientific advice by the WHO and the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Council also appealed to AU partners to assist in the fight against stigmatization and discrimination of people from the countries most affected by the epidemic.

The Council has mandated the AU Commission to take all the necessary steps for the rapid establishment of an African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDCP), pursuant to a June Assembly Decision of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government. Council encourages Member States to establish, where necessary, national centers for disease control and prevention and to enhance such centers where they do exist.

The AU PSC also expressed its appreciation to the “brave” ASEOWA volunteers and health professionals, deployed in the affected countries in West Africa, who are putting their lives at great risk, for their invaluable contribution to the fight against Ebola, and offers condolences to the families of all those who lost their relatives due to the Ebola epidemic. In this connection, the PSC in an earlier meeting convened on January 15, 2015 unanimously agreed to extend the mandate of ASEOWA for another six-month beginning February 18, 2015.

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The Meeting of the Peace and Security Council was chaired by President Alpha Conde, (Guinea chairs the Council for the month of January 2015).  Also in attendance was the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkozosana Dlamini Zuma, ECOWAS Chairman John Dramani Mahama, South African President Jacob Zuma, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and a number of Heads of State. 

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