On first visit to hard-hit nations, new UN Ebola mission chief vows scaled-up support to end crisis

Head of UNMEER Ould Cheikh Ahmed (left) works inside a UN MI-8 helicopter with Dr. David Nabarro, UN Special Envoy on Ebola, while visiting Liberia. Photo: UNMEER/Simon Ruf

6 January 2015 – The new Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, arrived in Liberia today as part of his first tour of the countries in West Africa most affected by the outbreak of the virus.

On his arrival in the capital of Monrovia, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as well as UNMEER and UNMIL (UN Mission in Liberia) staff. He also discussed response efforts with the wider diplomatic community.

“I want to visit the affected countries not only to see what’s already been 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 Mr. 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,” he added.

In Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the new Special Representative of the Secretary General – who succeeds UNMEER’s inaugural chief, Anthony Banbury – is tasked with assessing response efforts to stop the Ebola outbreak, and determine urgent UN priorities going forward.

Tomorrow, he will travel to Grand Cape Mount County where he will interact with local, traditional and religious leaders, as well as Ebola survivors, before heading to Sierra Leone, which along with Guinea, is among the three front line countries battling the outbreak.

During the visits, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed is scheduled to meet with the Presidents of Sierra Leone and Guinea, as well as other UN Ebola Response partners. He will also visit Ebola Treatment Units and national Ebola Response Centres to see how UNMEER’s coordination efforts are playing out on the ground.

As of 31 December 2014, seven of Liberia’s 15 counties had reported no new Ebola cases. Still, 22 new cases were reported in Grand Cape Mount, 88 in Montserrado, and 14 in Margibi.

“The UN is wholly committed to supporting all affected and at-risk communities to contain the Ebola outbreak and end this crisis,” Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed said today in a release.

“We need to pay special attention to the border areas. Zero cases – in Liberia and this entire region – must be everyone’s goal,” he added, pledging UNMEER’s support to ‘stand together’ with the people affected and their governments until the crisis ends.

According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) update, as of today, 06 January, 20,712 people have been reported infected and 8,220 have died from the Ebola outbreak.


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