President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has held discussions with a United States Congressional Staffers’ Delegation visiting Liberia. The delegation is here to assess the impact of the United States Government’s assistance to the Ebola response and to see what lies ahead of the country for the post-Ebola period.
The delegation headed by Majority Clerk, Senate Appropriation Sub-Committee for State and Foreign Operations and Related Programs, Mr. Paul Grove, included Staff Member of the same committee, Mr. Adam Yazerski; Majority Clerk, Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Ms. Luara Friedel; and an official at the Department of State, Mr. Paul Radamacher.
According to an Executive Mansion release, during the meeting held on Tuesday, February 17, at her temporary Foreign Ministry office, President Sirleaf thanked the Government and people of the United States of America for the level of support to Liberia as seen over the years, with particular reference to the period of the Ebola outbreak.
She indicated that the massive U.S. Government’s support helped Liberia achieves the success it has recorded to date. She reflected on the Department of Defense support to effort which ensured the construction of Ebola Treatment Units across the country, building the capacity of members of the Armed Forces of Liberia and enhancing the logistical and transportation needs of the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease.
President Sirleaf emphasized that the Ebola outbreak impacted all sectors of the country, including the economy, education, healthcare, infrastructural programs, agriculture and food security, and also left behind a huge orphan population of over 3,000 children. She acknowledged the role of the communities and the citizenry in general in containing the further spread of the disease.
The Liberian President updated the delegation about efforts aimed at reopening schools and restoring the educational sector, restoring normal healthcare services, as well as steps taken to bring back concessionaires, contractors and partners, who left the country during the height of the Ebola crisis. She also highlighted progress on the UNMIL’s transition process with regards to national security.
She informed the U.S. delegation about the sub-regional plan of the three most affected countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) to work towards “Zero New Cases” in the next 60 days and the participation of the three countries at a special conference in Brussels, Belgium on March 3rd 2015.
In response to an inquiry from the delegation, the Liberian leader named the elevation of agriculture, education, healthcare and other social services, land ownership, and jobs as expectations of the Liberian people. She also stressed the critical importance of energy for increased economic activities, private sector development and industrialization.
For his part, the head of the U.S. Delegation, Mr. Paul Grove, reflected that he was in Liberia in 2003 and returning in 2015, the progress is simply unbelievable and remarkable. He pointed out further that rebuilding a post-conflict country is measured not in years, but decades. “Emerging and rebuilding from a conflict situation is a long-term process that takes time to achieve,” Mr. Grove pointed out.
He told the Liberian leader that currently there is a lot of interest about Liberia in the United States and recommended that it was important for her to visit the U.S. after a long absence due to Ebola epidemic to hold talks with Administration officials.
Mr. Grove advised that in the short-term, Liberians remain vigilant in preventing the re-emergence of the Ebola virus disease and focus on getting to zero and maintaining the trend. “In the medium and long-term, you must seek to reflect recovery and endeavor to maintain the previous level of success,” he said, adding, “The country also needs new approaches to strengthening the educational and healthcare system.”
He acknowledged that Liberia was far on top of the Ebola crisis and expressed the hope that the rest of the affected countries and the region can copy from Liberia the practices and interventions that led to the very high level of progress and success.