President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday returned home after attending the United Nations conference on Ebola held at the global body’s headquarters in New York where the international community pledged US$3.4 billion to the three countries worst affected by the Ebola outbreak in the Mano River region.
President Sirleaf touched down at Roberts International Airport in Margibi County at about 2:30 pm. She had flown in directly from Ethiopia, the second leg of her visit, to participate in the third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa.
The latest international assistance is in an effort to help in finally ridding the region of the deadly virus and to also help the recovery processes of the worst affected countries. This was after the Finance Ministers of the three countries had requested US$3.2 million for the next two years.
The latest pledge brings to a staggering total of US$5 billion support from the international community to the three countries since the outbreak. The fund is intended to help eradicate the virus from the West African Sub-region and subsequently assist the affected countries to recover from the effects of the epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people and devastated their economies.
The European Union had earlier pledged US$495 million, the African Development Bank, US$745 million, and US$266 million from the Islamic Development Bank, as well as US$266 million from the U.S. and US$340 million from Great Britain.
While speaking on behalf of the three countries at the New York confab, President Sirleaf called for effective long-term response to the Ebola virus disease in plans and strategies for economic recovery and support for the transformation goals of the three countries worst-affected by the epidemic.
She told the gathering that the goal for long-term recovery adopted the sub-regional Post-Ebola Socio-Economic Program, as well as the institutional and financing framework to ensure an effective implementation of the plan.
President Sirleaf had initially pleaded for a US$8 billion Marshall Plan for the affected countries. The current US$5 billion falls short of that amount.
After the New York Conference, President Sileaf went to Ethiopia for the Financing for Development conference, which convened on Monday and ended yesterday. It brought together more than 5,000 high-level political representatives, including Heads of State and Government, Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, as well as relevant institutional stakeholders, non-governmental organizations and business sector entities. It will result in an intergovernmental negotiated and agreed outcome, which should constitute an important contribution to and support for the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda to be known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that will shortly succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Having co-chaired the United Nations High Level Panel as well as the African Union High Level Committee, all of which focused on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, President Sirleaf provided insight on many issues facing the world in its quest to embark on a new development agenda that would leave no one behind.
Speaking at the opening of the Conference, organized at the behest of the United Nations and the World Bank, President Sirleaf stressed that the decisions reached in the Ethiopian capital will build upon the significant gains made in the last 15 years through unprecedented cooperation among nations.
She said because of the strong partnership between developing countries and their international partners, there has been enormous progress in developing countries around the world, undergirded by the MDGs.
On the margin of the financing for development conference, President Sirleaf took up the opportunity to visit some of Ethiopia’s initiatives in financing their own development. She visited the Bishoftu manufacturing plant of METEC that produces buses, trucks, sport cars and helicopters. Reports indicate that the President was highly impressed with what she saw at the METEC plant, which is a brain child of the late Ethiopian Prime minister, Meles Zanawi.