UNMEER Chief in Liberia to assess Ebola response

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the new Head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), has visited Liberia as part of his first tour of the three countries most affected by Ebola.

A statement issued by UNMEER, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, on Wednesday said in each country, he would assess response efforts to stop the Ebola outbreak, and determine urgent UN priorities going forward.

It said on his arrival on Tuesday, Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with President Ellen Johnson-Sir leaf as well as UNMEER and UNMIL staff and discussed response efforts with the diplomatic community.

It added that he would be travelling to Grand Cape Mount County and interact with local, traditional and religious leaders, as well as Ebola survivors, before heading for Sierra Leone.

“I want to visit the affected countries not only to see what’s already being done – I know we have made a lot of progress – but to see what we can do to get to zero cases as fast as possible,” said Ould Cheikh Ahmed. “Beyond that, we also need to scale up our efforts to re-establish basic social services, strengthen health services, support economic activity and build these countries’ resilience.”

Ould Cheikh Ahmed replaced former Special Representative Anthony Banbury on January 5, 2015.

“The UN is wholly committed to supporting all affected and at-risk communities to contain the Ebola outbreak and end this crisis,” said Ould Cheikh Ahmed. “We need to pay special attention to the border areas. Zero cases – in Liberia and this entire region – must be everyone’s goal.”

The statement said during Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s visit, he would meet with the Presidents of Sierra Leone and Guinea, as well as other Ebola response partners.

It said he would also visit Ebola Treatment Units and National Ebola Response Centres to see how UNMEER’s coordination efforts were playing out on the ground.

It said as of December 31, 2014, seven of Liberia’s 15 counties had reported no new Ebola cases; adding that still, 22 new cases were reported in Grand Cape Mount, 88 in Montserrado, and 14 in Margibi.

“Clearly, we have more work to do to get to zero,” said Ould Cheikh Ahmed. “UNMEER will stand together with the people affected and their governments until we bring this crisis to an end.” GNA

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