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Norway, U.S. pledge support to Liberia

The Governments of Norway and the United States of America have pledged to stand by the Government and people of Liberia by providing more financial and material support in its fight against the Ebola virus disease ravaging the country.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Rajiv Shah said their respective Governments see the Ebola crisis not only as a Liberian problem, but a global crisis.

They both renewed calls for more global support to its eradication. They spoke separately at a joint news conference in the foyer of the Foreign Ministry when they met with President Sirleaf on Tuesday, October 14, 2014.

In his remarks, Foreign Minister Brende announced that the Norwegian Government has released US$60 million for West Africa since the outbreak started and an additional US$15 million through the World Health Organization (WHO) for countries affected.

He further announced that 160 doctors from his country have already signed up to be deployed to West Africa including Liberia and at the same time announced that his country will provide military transportation in the form of logistical support to Liberia – all aimed at eradicating the epidemic.

The Norwegian Foreign Minister furthered that his Government saw it as a responsibility to reach out to Liberia due to the long standing relationship between the two countries especially with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, at the helm – an award given by Norway.

Minister Brande stressed that Liberia is close to the heart of Norway and they cannot sit idly by and see the country decimated by the Ebola virus disease; but instead join the fight to eradicate the disease that will lead to the resumption of the Norwegian Government’s development aid to the country especially in energy and forest sectors.

For his part, the USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah informed journalists that the United States has put into place significant measures including finances in order to contain the spread of the virus.

Mr. Shah disclosed that the U.S. Government has approved and begun spending US$400 million with over 600 staff of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the country working with USAID to support the Liberian Government, making it the largest CDC operation outside of the United States.

The USAID Administrator announced further that U.S. Government through USAID would give US$5million to support the Liberian Government in its compensation program for health care workers. Mr. Shah noted, however, that this amount is part of the US$142 million critical support, out of which US$65 million would be targeted toward training, community-base engagements and the construction of care centers across the country.

The USAID Administrator renewed the United States’ commitment to helping Liberia in its fight against the Ebola virus disease and hoped that everyone will work together to return Liberia to normalcy in order to resume its development programs.

Speaking earlier, President Sirleaf reiterated that the intervention by the two governments demonstrate the level of strong bilateral  relationship which has helped Liberia get back on track since her ascendancy which is now being threatened by the Ebola outbreak.

The Liberian leader said her Government is pleased with the partnership with these two countries and expressed optimism that these relationships would go a long way in rebuilding Liberia’s health care sector that has been overly stretched by the Ebola epidemic.

Other members of the Norwegian delegation that met President Sirleaf included: Chief of Staff Vebjorn Dysvik and Harald Tollan of the West Africa Unit of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry; while the USAID Administrator was accompanied by USAID Director of Mission John Winfield, DART Leader Bill Berger and U.S, Ambassador to Liberia Deborah Malac.

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