U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Christine Elder, has departed Liberia abruptly, ending his Mission here few months earlier due to the current global pandemic, COVID-19.According to a release issued by the United States Embassy in Monrovia, Amb. Elder departed on Saturday, March 21, after nearly four years at the helm of the U.S. Embassy here.
Ambassador Elder worked closely with both Presidents Sirleaf and Weah and their respective administrations, overseeing U.S. diplomatic engagement with Liberia and U.S. foreign assistance to the country. She is one of the longest-serving U.S. Ambassadors in Liberia’s history, according to the release.The United States Embassy near Monrovia suspended routine consular services to the public, effective Monday, 23 March.
“I regret that a preexisting medical condition and the closure of air routes across Africa due to the COVID-19 virus force me to depart a few months earlier and more hastily than I had anticipated”, the embassy quotes the former envoy as saying.
Amb. Elder notes that she leaves a strong and passionate Mission team that will continue to deepen ties and meet challenges in all areas, none more important today than global health threats, saying, “It has been the highlight of my career and the honor of a lifetime to serve in this amazing country and advance the historic relationship between the U.S. and Liberia.”
She thanks the Liberian government and international community for the warm ties over the years, including the “Liberian people for their boundless resilience and good will.”
Meanwhile, the release says Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy, Alyson Grunder will serve as Chargé d’affaires until a new U.S. Ambassador is confirmed.
The Government of Liberia on Sunday, 22 March declared the Coronavirus pandemic a National Health Emergency, locking down Montserrado and Margibi Counties, named as “infected areas”, for 21 days.
“All travels in and outside the Montserrado and Margibi areas are discouraged”, said Liberia’s Minister of Health, Doctor Wilhelmina S. Jallah, stressing, the action is in keeping with Title 33, chapter 14 of the Public Health Law of Liberia.
The government also suspended commercial flights to Monrovia.
“Except for cargo, chartered and special flights, all commercial flights are hereby ordered suspended as of Monday March 23rd at 11:59pm. The Ministry of Transport and the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority will issue the appropriate notices henceforth”, Minister Jallah declared. Story by Jonathan Browne