The Ebola Virus Outbreak in Liberia, as it stands now, may no longer be a hindrance as many are now bracing the storm to carry on their normal affairs.
In the diplomatic domain, two influential European countries have sent ambassadors to represent them in Liberia.
The new Ambassadors representing the Kingdoms of Netherlands and Denmark respectively, on Monday presented their Letters of Credence to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at separate ceremonies at her Foreign Ministry office.
The two Ambassadors are resident in Accra, Ghana.
The new Danish Ambassador, Ms. Margit Thomsen, on behalf of His Majesty, the King of Denmark, conveyed fraternal greetings and best wishes of the King and the people of Denmark, noting that relations between Liberia and Denmark have throughout the years been characterized by good and fruitful cooperation.
Demark and Liberia, she said, have cooperated closely, especially in connection with improving women’s conditions, economic empowerment of women, raising awarenes and strengthening the campaign against gender-based violence, and supporting women food producers.
“Liberia made impressive progress in reinstating peace and restoring the country after the cessation of conflict in 2003 – construction of infrastructure, restoring water and electricity, while building of the educational and health sectors were underway,” Ambassador Thomsen noted.
She said that all of a sudden Liberia’s development path suffered a setback due to the eruption of the Ebola virus. She assured President Sirleaf that Denmark was committed to helping the Government and international partners to contain the further spread of the virus.
“Denmark wishes to continue to support Liberia also in the years ahead when Liberia will be back on the good path towards further development,” said Ambassador Thomsen.
Ambassador Hans Docker, for his part, expressed Netherland’s desire to stand firmly with Liberia during this time of the Ebola crisis.
He informed President Sirleaf that a vessel with anti-Ebola supplies is headed to the region in two weeks.
Ambassador Docker disclosed that he has also been appointed as the “Dutch Special Ebola Envoy” to the affected countries; and that his government will do all that is necessary to help eradicate the virus from the region.
The Kingdom of Netherlands is currently mobilizing to send healthcare workers, a mobile laboratory as well as build an Ebola treatment unit where it is most needed in the region.
In separate remarks, President Sirleaf updated the two new Ambassadors on the Ebola situation in the country and expressed satisfaction over the current level of intervention of the international community, including support from the two countries. The people of Liberia, with the help of many international partners, are now effectively containing the further spread of the virus.
“In July and August, the situation was extremely terrible as the disease was very strange to us and support and interventions were at their lowest. Many of our citizens died, while the government instituted several measures, including a State of Emergency to tackle the spread of the virus,” President Sirleaf recounted. “Today, we can see results and are well on the road to defeating the virus with the help and support of everyone.”
The Ebola virus disease has had a grave impact on the country’s economy and its development drive, she added.
President Sirleaf informed the two new diplomats that a post-Ebola recovery plan is being developed to mitigate the economic challenges that may arise. She pointed out that when such time comes, private sector partnerships will be highly encouraged and anticipated to aid the recovery process.
As a way of turning the Ebola devastation into opportunities, President Sirleaf noted that all will now be done to finally eradicate the virus as well as integrate the overall regular healthcare programs so as to ensure that the healthcare system comes out strong with solid infectious control measures and programs in all health facilities.
The Liberian leader particularly thanked the Danish Government for its support to the country’s Gender and Women’s Empowerment Program through the Ministry of Gender and Development.
Diplomacy Amidst Ebola
Though countries affected by the Ebola virus were ostracized during the heat of the crisis with many nations banning airlines and vessels emanating from the affected region from entering their countries, the coming of the two diplomats signals that things have began to improve with several institutional and global leaders bracing the Ebola storm and paying solidarity visits.
The decision of the two European countries to use this time to tighten diplomatic ties with Liberia tells the rest of the world that they can still do business with Liberia in spite of the crisis.
In the heat of the crisis there was no information of any diplomat leaving the country or closing of embassies as was being done by top entrepreneurs, concessions and other top foreign residents. The country was also shunned by many of its neighbors.