Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today focused world attention on the
"final stretch" of the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa,
an epidemic that has killed more than 11,000 people.
"Let us collectively take a deep breath and resolve to finish
the job and put the most affected countries on the path of recovery. Your
continued generosity will help the affected countries carry out their plans for
recovery over the next two years," said Ban in his opening remarks at the
International Conference on Ebola Recovery being held at UN Headquarters in New
Ban said the outbreak has eroded progress on peace and
development, disrupted health and social services, and affected major economic
sectors such as agriculture, mining, trade, tourism, transport, fisheries and
livestock. The functioning of schools, hospitals and other public
infrastructure has suffered.
"This negative impact – on economies, livelihoods and more
importantly lives – demands that the global community continues to prioritize
recovery from Ebola even long after the crisis subsides," he said.
"The strategy to end the outbreak is working – but the final
stretch of the response remains particularly challenging," he said.
"That is why today is about more than speeches and pledges – it is a
chance to forge a partnership for a better future – a future that is full of
opportunity and free of Ebola."
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, speaking on behalf of
Guinea, Sierra Leone and her own country, those hardest hit by last year's
unprecedented outbreak, said that the funding gap for the three countries'
national recover plans and the regional Mano River Union plan is estimated at
$7.2 billion, which includes $4 billion for the region as a whole.
"There is no doubt that the resources required are
significant," Johnson-Sirleaf said. "We believe, however, that this
can be achieved through existing bilateral and multilateral commitments
supplemented by the allocation of additional resources."
"Is this asking too much?" she said."We say no
because, a strong Mano River Union can be a formidable force for recovery and
resilience in the sub-region; a productive, progressive and peaceful Mano River
Union which would result from your support will attract private sector
investment and capital in our natural resource with ensuring sustainability in
our effort and positive impact on regional stability and world trade," she
Warning that Ebola is a "stubborn enemy," the President
of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma said "sometimes, humanity shows a very
short attention-span and wants to move on" and he emphasised: "No,
no, no, this fight isn't over."
Liberia was mid-way through a 90-day period of heightened
surveillance and vigilance, following the completion of 42 days since the
burial of the last person infected with Ebola virus disease when the disease
resurfaced last month.
As a follow-up to today's event, the African Union will convene an
International Conference on Africa's Fight against Ebola later this month in
Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. –End-