To help mobilize needed resources “in the last mile of the response” against the Ebola outbreak and to start the affected West African countries on the path of early recovery, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced that he will convene an international conference next month.
“All of your investments, all of the sacrifices and lives lost, and all of the risks that the relief workers took would be squandered if the outbreak recurs,” Mr. Ban cautioned in his remarks to an informal plenary of the UN General Assembly on the Organization’s Ebola response efforts.
“Next month, on July 10th, I will convene an international Ebola recovery conference” in New York, the UN chief said. “It will address these issues and help mobilize the resources needed to start early recovery” from the epidemic that has affected more than 27,000 people, killing over 11,000 mostly, in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“My appeal to you is clear: we are in the last mile of the response, but the job is not done,” the UN chief said. “We need you to persist in supporting the region in getting to a resilient zero cases and then beginning to recover.”
Also speaking at the meeting, the UN Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, noted “vast areas within each country have been free of Ebola for many weeks” and that the “green shoots of safe and early recovery have been planted and will contribute to the tapestry of trust and confidence so needed by societies.”
But also, warning against complacency, Dr. Nabarro said "everybody should be prepared in case the disease recurs and needs to be controlled
especially in the coming twelve months."
“The challenge facing us all is not only to end the Ebola outbreak but to ensure a healthier and safer future for all the world’s people,” he said. “We still have so much to do.”
He also said that next month’s planned Ebola recovery conference will be followed by the African Union’s efforts to galvanize African people, their governments and their business leaders in solidarity with the affected communities and countries at a 20 July conference in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
Peter Graaff, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), gave a briefing to the Member States, saying that experience in Liberia, which was declared free of Ebola transmission on 9 May, “demonstrates last mile of response is hardest.”
In preparation for the rainy season, Mr. Graaff said, UNMEER has reinforced capacities in Guinea and Sierra Leone, the World Food Programme has prepositioned supplies and WHO is strengthening national capacities including those in unaffected areas.
Noting that “when local communities are engaged, we see dramatic improvement,” he also spoke of the need to step up efforts to devise new ways to earn the trust of some of the communities resisting outside assistance in their Ebola response.