US Wants AFL Out of Civilian Matters

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US Ambassador Deborah Malac has advised that the Armed Forces of Liberia should play the critical role of repelling external aggression and leave civilian matters for the Liberia National Police. 

She made the statement Tuesday in a meeting with local and foreign journalists, during which time she was asked about the AFL shooting incident in West Point that happened two weeks ago in Monrovia.

She urged Liberians, however, to wait for the outcome of the investigation into the shooting incident, cautioning and appealing to all Liberians to stop shifting blame on one another and work in solid concert to control, prevent and kick the deadly Ebola virus out of the country.  

During the 45-minute briefing meeting with journalists on September 2, the Ambassador also provided latest updates in terms of assistance in the concerted fight against the deadly Ebola virus in the country.

She disclosed that the United States has so far committed more US$21 million to combat the Ebola virus disease in West Africa.

The US envoy also intimated that in addition, US$1.7 million United States dollars would be used to provide direct food assistance to Ebola patients in Liberia, in close partnership with the World Food Program (WFP).

Ambassador Malac further stated that a 26-man Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) is currently in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to oversee the U.S. Government response to the Ebola virus.

She also told newsmen and women that the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more than 70 disease control experts in West Africa, providing technical expertise to national public health agencies to help prevent, detect and stop the spread the Ebola virus.

Ambassador Malac recalled that in April 2014, the U.S. recognized the need to have testing for Ebola done in Liberia instead of sending to Guinea or Sierra Leone for results.

The American diplomat also intimated that experts from the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) upgraded the testing laboratory at the Liberia Institute for Biological Research (LIBR) in order to undertake laboratory tests for Ebola.

Since that time, US laboratory experts working in Liberia have set up a mobile testing laboratory at the ELWA campus to shorten the response time of tests for patients at the largest facility currently in Liberia.

Ambassador Malac further noted that for the past week (August 24-31), the US Government, through DART, airlifted more than 16 tons of medical supplies and emergency equipment to Liberia, which includes 500 infrared thermometers to bolster Ebola screening efforts.

Others include 5,000 body bags to be distributed to areas of need and 10,000 sets of personal protective equipment and many other essential medical materials.

Commenting further on areas assistance the US has been provided, Ambassador Malac indicated that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided the World Health Organization (WHO) 105,000 sets of PPE for healthcare staff and outbreak investigators in Ebola affected countries.

She further stated that a charter flight, funded by the US government and UNICEF, brought into Monrovia more than 40 tons of chlorine and 400,000 pairs of medical gloves. 

In a related development, Ambassador Malac intimated that the US Military has trained 230 members of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) on the proper use of PPE, safe handling of patients, securing health sites and escorting humanitarian and medical personnel.

Shedding light on the aviation sector, Ambassador Malac explained that the US is supporting the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS),  which is operating flights in and out of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to help ensure that critical supplies, medical equipment and personnel get to areas of need despite commercial flight limitations.

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