Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today assured African leaders gathered for a summit in Addis Ababa of the support of the United Nations in helping the countries affected by Ebola “build back stronger than ever,” while the head of the UN development agency tasked with leading the Organization's recovery efforts urged the world to stay the course in aiding hard-hit West Africa.
“Ebola must be confronted as both a health crisis and a crisis that has stopped development in its tracks,” said UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark at a briefing she hosted in New York Thursday for UN Member States. “It is incumbent on us all to support the three countries make the serious development setbacks as short lived as possible.”
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General, who had tasked UNDP with leading the initiatives of the UN system on Ebola-related recovery, addressed a roundtable on the Ebola outbreak on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) summit which opened today in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Lauding the AU for being on the frontlines of the Ebola response, Mr. Ban told the participants that: “We are now at a critical stage. Some may even call it a turning point.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that the number of new Ebola cases recorded last week in the three hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone fell below 100 for the first time in seven months, as it announced that the battle against the deadly virus has shifted from slowing transmission to ending the epidemic.
The UN chief today reminded the world that “Ebola will not be gone from any country, until is gone from every country,” and that “success in the affected countries will also mean repairing the damage caused by Ebola.”
“Children need to go to school, farmers need to return to their fields, markets and businesses must reopen,” he added.
Saying he was “greatly encouraged by the solidarity shown by Africa – its Governments, businesses and people,” Mr. Ban wished every success in the AU's efforts to defeat Ebola and help the affected countries build back stronger than ever. “I assure you of the United Nations' support,” he said.
Meanwhile, the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) reported that the Director of Operations for Humanitarian Affairs, John Ging, visited Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia to assess existing emergency coordination structure. There, he met with UNDP and UNMEER colleagues, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other response partners to discuss details of a potential intervention to enhance humanitarian response in the Ebola-hit countries.
UNMEER also said efforts were underway to re-open schools in Liberia next week.
“Preparation of school infection prevention and control kits to facilitate the safe reopening of more than 4,000 schools in Liberia began in advance of their opening scheduled for next week,” according to the Mission.