President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has met with the new Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.
The Liberian President received Mr. Ahmed and his delegation at her Foreign Ministry office during a courtesy call on Tuesday, January 6, 2015, where brief acquaintance pleasantries were exchanged.
Mr. Ahmed, a Mauritanian, replaces Mr. Anthony Banbury.
Special Representative Banbury was the first envoy appointed by UN0 Secretary Ban Ki-Moon during the heat of the Ebola crisis in the sub-region. He initially noted that his mandate was to eradicate the virus from the sub-region. Mr. Banbury’s tour of duty ended over the weekend, thereby ushering in the new envoy.
President Sirleaf welcomed the new Head of UMEER to Liberia and described the work of his predecessor as excellent and very supportive of the country’s fight to contain the deadly ebola virus disease.
“Your predecessor effectively spearheaded the operations of UMEER with huge progress. Even though the country still has a lot to be done with regards to Ebola, much was achieved with the assistance and cooperation of UNMEER,” President Sirleaf indicated.
She pledged her government’s support to the transitional process in UNMEER and emphasized the need for improved and strengthened regional collaboration and cooperation in the continued fight against the further spread of the deadly Ebola virus disease.
She named exchange of information, experiences and best practices as important elements required to enhance regional cooperation and collaboration in the Ebola fight, thereby acknowledging that some level of regional collaboration is taking place, but still below the level it ought to be and stressed that the regional dimension of the virus makes it difficult for progress to be made in one country without the corresponding progress in the others.
The new UNMEER Head, Cheikh Ahmed, expressed appreciation for the leadership and commitment of the Liberian government, which he considers the main factor responsible for the level of progress made in Liberia’s fight against the further spread of the Ebola virus disease.
He pointed out that the mechanism for coordination may not be perfect but has impacted the Ebola fight in Liberia and the region very efficiently.
Mr. Ahmed indicated that UNMEER will also focus on helping government reactivate the educational system and declared the mission’s support to the back to school effort. He, however, advised that appropriate measures and processes be put into place to protect both the students and staff as Ebola is still active in Liberia.
Mr. Ahmed was accompanied by the Secretary General’s Special Representative of the UN Mission in Liberia, Karin Landgren; UN Ebola Envoy, David Nabarro; and Mr. Peter Graff; while Health Minister, Dr. Walter Gwenigale; Minister of State Without Portfolio, Mr. Sylvester Grigsby; and Dr. Emmanuel Dolo, were also in attendance.