The head of the United States Congressional Staffers’ delegation visiting Liberia, Paul Grove, has said that rebuilding a post-conflict country is measured not in years, but decades.
Mr. Grove was making reference to Liberia’s reconstruction process, which he said can in no way be achieved in a few years, especially after such a devastating civil crisis that was recently compounded by the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
“Emerging and rebuilding from a conflict situation is a long-term process that takes time to achieve,” Mr. Grove pointed out.
Mr. Grove, who said he had visited Liberia in 2003, noted that Liberia has made remarkable progress under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Speaking at the Foreign Ministry when he led his delegation to pay a courtesy call on President Sirleaf on Tuesday, Mr. Grove said there is a lot of interest about Liberia in the United States, and recommended that it is important for President Sirleaf to visit the United States, after a long absence due to Ebola epidemic, to hold talks with US Administration officials.
Though Liberia has made considerable progress against the EVD, Mr. Grove advised that in the short-term, Liberians must remain vigilant in preventing the re-emergence of the Ebola virus disease and focus on getting to zero and maintaining the trend.
“In the medium and long-term, you must seek to reflect recovery and endeavor to maintain the previous level of success,” he admonished, adding, “Liberia also needs new approaches to strengthen its educational and healthcare systems.”
He acknowledged that Liberia is on top of the Ebola crisis, and expressed the hope that the rest of the affected countries in the region can copy from Liberia’s practices and interventions that led to the very high level of progress.
President Sirleaf welcomed the team and thanked the U.S. government and people for the level of support to Liberia, over the years, with particular reference to the period of the Ebola outbreak.
She indicated that the massive U.S. government support helped Liberia achieve the success it has recorded to date, making specific reference to the Department of Defense support to efforts which ensured the construction of Ebola Treatment Units across the country, building the capacity of members of the Armed Forces of Liberia, and enhancing the logistical and transportation needs of the fight against the disease.
She emphasized that the Ebola outbreak impacted all sectors of the country, including the economy, education, healthcare, infrastructural programs, agriculture and food security, and also left behind a huge orphan population of over 3,000 children.
She acknowledged the role of Liberian communities and the citizenry in general, in containing the further spread of the disease.
President Sirleaf updated the delegation on efforts aimed at reopening schools, and restoring the educational sector, restoring normal healthcare services, as well as steps taken to bring back concessionaires, contractors and partners who left the country during the height of the Ebola crisis.
She also highlighted progress on the UNMIL’s transition process with regards to national security.
In response to an inquiry from the delegation, the Liberian leader named the elevation of agriculture, education, healthcare and other social services, land ownership, and jobs as expectations of the Liberian people.
She also stressed on the critical importance of energy for increased economic activities, private sector development and industrialization.
The delegation is in the country to assess the impact of the US assistance to the Ebola response and to see what lies ahead. It was led by Majority Clerk, Senate Appropriation Sub-Committee for State and Foreign Operations and Related Programs, Mr. Paul Grove.
It included Staff Member of the same committee, Mr. Adam Yazerski; Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Ms. Luara Friedel; and an official at the Department of State, Mr. Paul Radamacher.