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“Slowing Ebola is not enough” – Tony Blair warns

Former British Prime Minister has warned the Government of Liberia that slowing the Ebola virus infection rate in the country is not enough, urging that everything should be done collectively to eradicate the epidemic from West Africa.

Mr. Blair, who paid a one day visit to Liberia Wednesday, 12 November as part of a two-day tour of the three worst affected countries, stressed that the number of new cases each week is still higher than the total for any previous outbreak in history.

He indicated that though the international community has made important contributions to the Ebola fight in the worst affected countries, it needs to follow through on the commitments that have been made, highlighting the need for treatment centers across the country as well as the need to get rid of the travel restrictions which are causing economic harm and deterring the badly needed health practitioners from coming to the affected countries.

“Commercial flights must also resume,” Mr. Blair urged, reiterating that there is no justification for the dangerous isolation of Liberia and its affected neighbors. The former British Prime Minister cautioned that the impact of Ebola will not stop with the final case; rather, the fragile economy has been severely battered, harvests hit and livelihoods lost.

Mr. Blair urged the international community to rally around Liberia to turn a year of turmoil in a decade of progress. “An estimated US$2 billion will be needed over the next few years to build more resilient public services, deliver basic infrastructure and create jobs in the sector where Liberia, with all its resources, has a comparative advantage,” he appealed.

He expressed pleasure at working with President Sirleaf and her Government, noting that his foundation, AGI, support government’s priorities, not bringing their own. “I would like to congratulate the President and her team for the leadership they have shown and coordination with international partners,” Mr. Blair pointed out, adding that he was proud that AGI has been able to support them in those efforts.

During his short stay in the country, Mr. Blair visited the Ebola Emergency Operations Center on 18th Street, Sinkor. He also held meetings with the Ministers of Finance and Development Planning and Commerce and Industry, respectively, Mr. Amara Konneh and Axel Addy; and the Acting Executive Director of the National Investment Commission, Mr. George Wisner.

Earlier, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thanked Mr. Blair, patron and founder of the African Governance Initiative (AGI), and his team for remaining with Liberia during the Ebola crisis.

“More recently, with the difficulty we faced with Ebola, you have stuck with us. The team has not left, thereby demonstrating courage and confidence in our country,” she said, adding, “Thank you Tony for always being there, for having a team that has continued to work with us and to enable us to achieve our planning and productive goals.”

According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader made the assertion Wednesday, November 12, during a brief press stakeout following a breakfast meeting with Mr. Blair at her residence. Mr. Blair is on the second leg of a two-day West African tour of countries worse affected by the Ebola virus disease. He had arrived from Sierra Leone and will visit Guinea after here.

“Today he’s here to demonstrate that he has no fear that he can come even though we are Ebola ridden; he can go beyond the advocacy and show his presence and what this means in his support for the Liberian people,” The Liberian leader  stressed further.

President Sirleaf thanked the former British Prime Minister for the visit and his support to Liberia through the AGI, his own personal encouragement and advocacy especially in assisting in planning the country’s long term vision, Liberia Rising 2030, and the shorter five-year vision, Agenda for Transformation.

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