– MRU Leaders
Heads of State and Governments of the sub-regional group- Mano River Union or MRU have reiterated their commitment to achieving ‘Zero Ebola Infection’ in 60 days commencing Sunday, February 15, 2015.
Presidents Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, Alpha Conde’ of Guinea, Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Representative of President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire, Charles Koffi Diby, however, appealed to the International Community to provide all of the necessary support to achieve this objective.
According to the Executive Mansion, the commitment was contained in a Declaration of MRU Heads of State and Government on the Eradication of Ebola and Post-Ebola Socio-Economic Recovery, during an Extraordinary Session in Conakry, Guinea to adopt common strategies to end the Ebola epidemic in the sub-region, as well as address post-Ebola socio-economic development recovery needs.
The Extraordinary MRU Summit
approved the strategy for reaching and sustaining “Zero Ebola Infection” in the sub-region, with special emphasis on infection prevention control, social mobilization, community engagement, surveillance, cross border collaboration, as well as instituting robust and sustainable social protection programs, providing mental and psychosocial support and ensuring coordination.
The Heads of State and Governments recognized that to get to and stay at zero, will require collective political will on their part to provide the enabling environment to translate intervention strategies into action.
They stressed the need for international partners to plan and manage their exits responsibly dictated by the epidemiology, while ensuring that capacity is transferred adequately to national institutions; and achieve seamless flow of information among nations at all levels.
They endorsed the Post-Ebola Socio-Economic Frameworks prepared by Ministers, in order to mobilize the required resources for implementation, placing emphasis on instituting sustainable healthcare delivery systems, reopening of educational institutions, revitalizing the agriculture sector, addressing the needs of women, children, youth, orphans, survivors and persons with disabilities, as well as implementing the Mano River Union-African Development Bank Initiative on critical infrastructure needs and improving governance.
They directed their Ministers to harmonize and consolidate the regional and country specific documents, including the costs of intervention to be presented at the Brussels meeting on March 3rd, 2015, with the aim of mobilizing the regional support.
President Sirleaf was appointed by the Heads of State and Governments as spokesperson for the MRU at the March 3rd, 2015 European Union Ebola Conference in Brussels.
At the Summit, the MRU Heads of State and Government welcomed planned meetings by bilateral and multilateral partners, urging them to adopt the MRU and country specific strategies.
They admonished them to go beyond ties and relationships in supporting the affected countries.
They also welcomed the World Bank’s proposal to establish a Post-Ebola Recovery Marshall Plan with dedicated resources, agreeing that this is the best way forward. They also urged development partners to utilize country systems for disbursements and implementation of Post-Ebola Recovery activities.
The MRU leaders called on the International Community to provide direct budget support and debt cancellation for the affected countries, urging partners to renew their commitments to Mutual Accountability and ensure full disclosure of all resources committed to the fight against Ebola, as well as renew their commitments to the New Deal Principles and country-specific Mutually Accountability Frameworks as the main levers to guide post-Ebola recovery interventions.
They agreed that in support of post-Ebola recovery, Member States will allocate a proportion of their public investment to local Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, expressing the belief that this decision will improve the resilience of their economies by supporting national production and creating employment opportunities.
The sub-regional leaders expressed their deep condolences to the families of the victims across the three countries, especially healthcare personnel who were at the forefront of fighting the epidemic. They also expressed concerns about the wellbeing of their populations and the risks associated with their development agendas.
They appreciated the solidarity manifested by Côte d’Ivoire, through ECOWAS Initiative in deploying healthcare workers to the affected Member States.
The Heads of States and Governments expressed gratitude to all airline carriers that have maintained flights to the affected countries and particularly commended Member State Cote d’Ivoire for the early resumption of Air Ivoire flights, calling on other regional carriers to emulate this good example.
Presidents Sirleaf, Koroma and Minister Diby renewed to President Conde their friendship and solidarity and thanked him for hosting the Summit.
President Conde thanked his colleagues for the honor betowed on his country to host the Extraordinary Summit as a cornerstone in strengthening the friendship and kinship that united peoples and enable them to stand together.