UN: US$7 billion needed for Ebola recovery efforts in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone

New York, US (PANA) - The UN on Friday focused world attention on the final stretch of the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, an epidemic that has affected some 27,600 people, including more than 11,000 deaths, mostly in three West African states.

PANA in New York reports that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his opening remarks at the International Conference on Ebola Recovery held at UN headquarters in New York, said: "Let us collectively take a deep breath and resolve to finish the job and put the most affected countries on the path of recovery."

"Your continued generosity will help the affected countries carry out their plans for recovery over the next two years," Ban said.

He noted that, while cases in Guinea and Sierra Leone had been reduced considerably, new cases in Liberia showed the need for continued vigilance given the regional risks.

"Liberia was mid-way through a 90-day period of heightened surveillance and vigilance, following the completion of 42 days since the burial of the last person infected with Ebola virus disease when the disease resurfaced last month," the UN chief said.

He said the outbreak had eroded progress on peace and development, disrupted health and social services, and affected major economic sectors such as agriculture, mining, trade, tourism, transport, fisheries and livestock, and the functioning of schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure had suffered.

"This negative impact on economies, livelihoods and more importantly lives, demands that the global community continues to prioritize recovery from Ebola even long after the crisis subsides," Ban said.

"The strategy to end the outbreak is working, but the final stretch of the response remains particularly challenging, that is why today is about more than speeches and pledges, it is a chance to forge a partnership for a better future – a future that is full of opportunity and free of Ebola," the secretary-general stressed.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, speaking on behalf of Guinea, Sierra Leone and her own country, those hardest hit by last year's unprecedented outbreak, said that the funding gap for the three countries' national recovery plans and the regional Mano River Union plan was estimated at US$7.2 billion, which included US$4 billion for the region as a whole.

Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf said: "There is no doubt that the resources required are significant, and we believe, however, that this can be achieved through existing bilateral and multilateral commitments supplemented by the allocation of additional resources."

"Is this asking too much?" she asked.

She stated: "We say no because, a strong Mano River Union can be a formidable force for recovery and resilience in the sub-region; a productive, progressive and peaceful Mano River Union which would result from your support will attract private sector investment and capital in our natural resource with ensuring sustainability in our effort and positive impact on regional stability and world trade."

Also speaking, the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, warned that, "Ebola is a stubborn enemy, and sometimes, humanity shows a very short attention-span and wants to move on, but no, no, no, this fight is not over."

Guinean President Alpha Conde spotlighted the breadth of socio-economic damage caused by the outbreak, noting that health systems had collapsed, investors and consultants had left the three countries, farms and markets had ceased to function, the trade and travel to and from the region had been compromised, tax revenues declined, and household incomes had been hard hit.

World Bank President Jim Kim said: "We must not let up until we end this deadly epidemic, and urged ongoing efforts to help affected countries get to zero, and sustain zero cases.

The all-day conference is chaired by UN Development Programme Administrator, Helen Clark, and was convened by the UN Secretary-General in partnership with the African Union, European Union, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

As a follow-up to the UN event, the African Union will convene an International Conference on Africa's Fight against Ebola on 20 July in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

Meanwhile, Dr. David Nabarro, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Ebola, told UN reporters said that, "remarkable progress" had been made through the outstanding efforts of the people and governments of the affected countries.

"Most of the affected region is now free of Ebola, and the numbers of transmission chains have reduced in the last few weeks, although there are some new cases," he said.

He stressed that, the recent discovery of new cases in Liberia was a reminder of the absolute importance of remaining vigilant until the very end of the outbreak and responding quickly to any new flare-ups when they occurred.

"I am delighted to say that the response to the Liberian recent flare-up has been rapid and effective."

But, the UN envoy noted that, "there is no need to wait to get to 'zero cases' before the recovery process begins".

He said that the response and recovery phases of the outbreak were intertwined, in order to get schools open and running safely and ensuring that health care services were in place and resilient.

Dr. Nabarro also called for continued solidarity as the affected countries and their people put in place their recovery strategies.
-0- PANA AA/MA 10July2015

10 july 2015 20:54:56

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