United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is in the vanguard of campaigning and adequately engaging world leaders, on behalf of countries affected by the Ebola virus for more resources and support that will help bring an end to the scourge.
Disclosing this last week, United Nations Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous stated that “Currently, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki- moon, has taken advantage of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly to engage different levels of world leaders and is committed to doing all he can to stop the epidemic.”
The UN is also affected by the outbreak due to the presence of UN peacekeepers on mission here,” Mr. Ladsous noted. Speaking when he paid a courtesy call on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at her Foreign Affairs Ministry’s office last week, Mr. Ladsous said he was in the country to discuss with stakeholders as to how the UN could help in the situation. “I am here to sit with you and the Government on how we can more effectively help the situation,” Mr. Ladsous told President Sirleaf.
On behalf of SG Ban, Mr. Ladsous conveyed what he termed as deep feelings of the UN about the current Ebola epidemic in Liberia and other countries in the sub-region, adding that his visit is also intended to express the solidarity of the Secretary-
General and to assure President Sirleaf of the UN system’s commitment to help mitigate the risk placed on the hard won gains made in Liberia so far.
He reiterated that there is a general agreement that the outbreak is a threat to peace and security in the sub-region and therefore noted that the current mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia may not change because this is not the appropriate time. He assured President Sirleaf that the UN remains on the side of Liberia in the wake of the Ebola epidemic and is prepared to support ongoing international efforts led by WHO and others to contain the virus.
He reiterated that the Organization has taken the initiative to mobilize the entire UN system and beyond, effectively to respond to the outbreak with the aim of containing its further spread in the sub-region. President Sirleaf thanked Mr. Ladsous for his visit and recounted previous visits including that of the UN Systems Coordinator on Ebola, David Nabarro and others to help respond to the outbreak. The Liberian leader described the Ebola virus disease as an unknown enemy to the Liberian setting, making it critical to the respond efforts.
“Our collective response is yet to catch up with the acceleration rate of the virus thus far, but concrete efforts in strategic partnership with the international community and international responders are now in place to mitigate the situation,” President Sirleaf pointed out. President Sirleaf briefed Mr. Ladsous about several initial measures taken by the Government including the closure of schools, entertainment centers, video club, etc. and noted that cultural and traditional practices also remain at the heart of efforts to break the transmission of the disease.
She, however, expressed hope that the end will come soon as there are so many success stories associated with the release of more survivors from the treatment centers across the country. “Our regular healthcare system was hard hit by the outbreak and needs support and attention to be able to respond to the growing number of non-Ebola cases that are also adding to the death rate in the country. We are working with our partners to fully restore regular healthcare, and the UN’s involvement is encouraged,” President Sirleaf urged.
She further pointed out that the Ebola outbreak is having serious consequences on the country’s economy. She gave assurance that the government is working with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others to mitigate the situation now and the post-Ebola period. She informed Mr. Ladsous that the security situation in the country so far remains calm. She pointed out that the desire of training more personnel in the security sector, particularly the police, was on course but now restrained by the Ebola outbreak.