SRSG Emphasizes Ebola Gravity in Liberia

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The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Liberia, Karin Landgren, has described as “the gravest threat” the Ebola crisis faced by Liberians since the war.

Expressing the concern in her regular briefing to the Security Council yesterday in New York, the SRSG emphasized, “Liberians are facing their gravest threat since the war,” adding that the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) will do all that it can to preserve the progress made during the past decade of peace – gains that are being put at risk by the Ebola crisis.

“The speed and scale of the loss of lives, and the economic, social, political and security reverberations of the crisis, are affecting Liberia profoundly,” said Landgren.

She recalled that in Liberia, more than 2,000 confirmed, probable or suspected cases, including 1,235 deaths, had been reported as of 7 September. She added that the actual figures are likely much higher as numbers of new cases and deaths continue to rise exponentially.

Landgren outlined extraordinary measures the Government has taken since August, including the President’s declaration of a state of emergency. However, she stressed that even as Liberia and its partners respond, the disaster continues to grow.

“For now, patients at advanced stages of EVD continue to be brought to facilities that cannot admit them. Four new case-management centres will be established in Monrovia, adding some 500 beds in the capital alone, but even this may not fully respond to the needs,” said Landgren.

“We will know this epidemic is being outrun only when there is spare bed capacity,” she stressed.

Landgren further noted that the unprecedented epidemic requires a response beyond the capacities of any one actor, noting that UNMIL and the entire UN system are fully committed to supporting the Government-led fight, which will require a massive, sustained and coordinated global response for an estimated six to nine months.

“Since late July, UNMIL has turned its full focus on EVD,” said Landgren, adding that the Mission has reoriented several of its operations to support the nationally-led response.

The mission’s four pillars of engagement and support in the fight against Ebola include security and rule of law; logistics; communications and outreach; and coordination at the county and national level.

To ensure continued implementation of the Mission’s protection of civilians mandate and other core aspects of its work, UNMIL is taking every necessary precaution to protect its personnel from Ebola.

“This epidemic of unprecedented scale would challenge any government and any society,” Landgren said. “UNMIL has pledged to provide its full support, and continues to review the range of capabilities we can bring to ending this latter-day plague which must be stopped in its tracks, and stopped soon.”

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