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UN reiterates commitment to Liberia

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The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations,  Hervé Ladsous, has assured the Government and people of Liberia that the UN remains on the side of the Liberian people in the wake of the deadly Ebola epidemic and is prepared to support ongoing international efforts led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and others to contain the virus.

According to a press release, Mr. Ladsous reiterated that the WHO has taken the initiative to mobilize the entire UN system and beyond to effectively respond to the outbreak with the aim of containing the further spread of Ebola in the sub-region.

“Currently, the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, has taken advantage of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly to engage different levels of world leaders and it’s committed to doing all they can to stop the epidemic,” he said, noting that the UN is also affected by the outbreak due to the presence of UN peacekeepers on a mission here.

The UN Under-Secretary General made the assertion when he met with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf recently at the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia.

The UN envoy conveyed the deep feelings of Mr. Ban about the current deadly Ebola epidemic in Liberia and other countries in the sub-region, saying, “My visit to Liberia is also to express the solidarity of the Secretary-General and to assure President Sirleaf, of the UN system’s commitment to help mitigate the risk placed on the hard won gains made in Liberia so far. I am here sitting with you and the Government on how we can more effectively help the situation.”

He said there is a general agreement that the outbreak is a threat to peace and security in the sub-region and therefore noted that the current mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia may not change because this is not the appropriate time.

President Sirleaf in response thanked the UN Under-Secretary-General for his visit to Liberia and recounted previous visits, including that of the UN Systems Coordinator on Ebola, David Nabarro and others to help respond to the outbreak.

The Liberian leader described the Ebola virus disease as an unknown enemy to the Liberian setting, making it critical to respond efforts. “Our collective response is yet to catch up with the acceleration rate of the virus thus far, but concrete efforts in strategic partnership with the international community and international responders are now in place to mitigate the situation,” President Sirleaf pointed out.

President Sirleaf briefed Mr. Ladsous about several initial measures taken by the Government, including the closure of schools, entertainment centers, video clubs, etc., and noted that cultural and traditional practices also remain at the heart of efforts to break the transmission of the disease.

She expressed hope that the end will come soon as there are so many success stories associated with the release of more survivors from the treatment centers across the country. “Our regular health care system was hard hit by the outbreak and needs support and attention to be able to respond to the growing number of non-Ebola cases that are also added to the death rate in the country. We are working with our partners to fully restore regular health care, and the UN’s involvement is encouraged,” President Sirleaf urged.

The President pointed out that the Ebola outbreak is having serious consequences on the country’s economy, and assured that the government is working with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others to mitigate the situation now and the post-Ebola period.

She informed Mr. Ladsous that the security situation in the country so far remains calm. She pointed out that the desire of training more personnel in the security sector, particularly the police was on course but now restrained by the Ebola outbreak.

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