The Country Representative of the African Development Bank (AfDB) for Liberia has frowned at the suspension of flights and vessels to Ebola-affected countries by sister African countries. Dr. Margaret Kilo told reporters in the Liberian capital, Monrovia last week that the blockage is hindering the movement of not only goods and services into the affected countries, but AfDB staff who should be coming in and out of Liberia to monitor the Bank’s ongoing projects in support of the country’s Agenda for Transformation (AfT).
“We all know how Ebola virus can be transmitted and the methods are there to be used that will make one not be infected,” she said.
Dr. Kilo was speaking during the signing ceremony of a US$11.4 million grant by the Africa Development Bank to help the Liberian government fight the Ebola virus which came to Liberia from Guinea.
“It’s too bad for us to be isolating our brothers who are fighting to stop a disease that they didn’t create.”
The African Union (AU), the United Nations and the World Health Organization have all called on airlines and nations not to close their borders or suspend flights to the affected countries, but their pleads have fallen on deaf eyes as countries such as Ghana, Ivory and others have refused to allow direct flights to Monrovia, Freetown and Conakry, the capital of the three countries worst hit by the deadly Ebola virus.
The Ebola virus has killed more than 3,000 people in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria and has infected nearly 6,000 others, mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Dr. Kilo pointed out that by imposing flight and vessel restrictions on the three most affected countries, their African brothers are subjecting the peoples of the three countries to what she called “unnecessary suffering.”
“These people are already struggling to deal with a virus they don’t know about and it continues to kill their people,” she said remorsefully.
Dr. Kilo appealed to African countries and partners on the continent to lift the suspension as the virus is not the making of the three countries.
“I am making this appeal to our African partners to open up their borders to allow free movement of people and goods. This virus is not the making of the people of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone and it is not you who will punish these countries for suffering from Ebola by blocking the free movement of goods and persons, thereby strangulating economies and livelihoods,” said Dr. Kilo.
According to the AfDB Country Representative, the delivery of the Bank’s planned work program to support the government of Liberia’s Agenda for Transformation depends on sister colleagues [bank staff] being able to travel into Liberia and to visit project sites without fear of quarantine.
“We know how the virus is transmitted; we know how to prevent ourselves from getting it,” she stressed.
Liberia’s Acting Minister of Finance and Development Planning Amara M. Konneh thanked Dr. Kilo for the passionate appeal on behalf of the peoples of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. “This is where we know our true partners,” he said. Minister Konneh also commended the AfDB for the grant. “The AfDB, which happens to be our own African bank, has come to our aid providing US$11.4 million grant to us to fight Ebola and this is a true friendship,” he said.
The Liberian Finance Minister explained that the money will be used to take care of the staffing, purchase equipment and operate the government’s Ebola treatment care centers (ETUs.
The Liberian Government is currently constructing 17 Ebola care centers across the country to beef up existing centers in Foya, in Lofa County, Gbarnga, Bong County, the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Center, the ELWA-2 and ELWA-3 centers and the Island Clinic Center, all in Montserrado.
There is ongoing construction of ETUs at the New Defense Ministry in Congo Town, Monrovia and another in Margibi County. Construction of additional ETUs is also ongoing in River Gee and Nimba counties.
Mr. Konneh explained that part of the US$11.4 million by the AfDB will be used to construct and support community care centers in communities hardest hit by Ebola, purchase equipment to handle waste at treatment centers and hospitals, and to provide housing and logistics to the AU team and other foreign medical teams that have come to help fight the Ebola epidemic.
The AU has already deployed a general to Liberia as part of a 90-man team dispatched recently. Minister Konneh also thanked the AfDB for reaching a decision to help the affected countries through budget support.
“The expenditure demand on our government is very high and the economy is declining. The budgeting support is intended to put the Agenda for Transformation (AfT) back on track,” he stated.