LIBERIA: Pres. Sirleaf Meets Top Europe Aid Official

A top official of the European Union (EU) says the Union would rather the world help isolate the Ebola virus, than the disease isolate the affected countries.

According to an Executive Mansion release Friday, the Deputy Director-General Directorate-General Development and Cooperation of EuropeAid (DEVCO), Marcus Conaro, made the statement during a courtesy he paid on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

He said this is the time to demonstrate international partnership by giving all the help rather than sitting to witness the death of more people from the Ebola virus.

This is the second condemnation to countries and institutions disengaging from countries affected as the result of the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease.

The first came from the current chairman of the sub-regional organization, ECOWAS, also Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama, when he paid a solidarity visit to Liberia earlier this week.

Mr. Conaro said the EU, as a long time and a strong partner, will continue to support Liberia in its fight against Ebola as well as its post-Ebola recovery.

The Deputy Director-General of EuropeAid said one way the EU has demonstrated its engagement is to keep Brussels Airlines flying to Liberia.

He disclosed that as part of the EU’s intervention in the Ebola fight, the body will inject an additional €5 million and have already met with the Ugandan General heading the African Union deployment to affected countries, Major-General Dr. Julius Faeki Okettathe, about how it is engaging the Liberian Government to eradicate the killer disease.

Mr. Conaro also committed the EU to supporting Liberia’s long term programs, including education, agriculture and economic revitalization and pledged to further push Liberia’s case at the United Nation General Assembly in New York.

He praised President Sirleaf for the level of leadership demonstrated since the Ebola outbreak, terming it as “exemplary” and admonished her to keep up the extraordinary leadership demonstrated over the years and during this Ebola outbreak in particular.

The EuropeAid Deputy Director-General agreed with government and is equally worried that the Ebola situation would drag development programs, especially the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee hydro electric plant and Roberts International Airport runway.

Mr. Cornaro assured President Sirleaf that his organization will work with government and other partners to see that these projects are not stalled, and if stalled, resumed as soon as conditions get better as they are greatly important to Liberia’s infrastructural development.

Responding, President Sirleaf termed Mr. Cornaro’s visit representing the European Union as timely and a boost to calls for an end to isolating affected countries.

President Sirleaf believed that the visit will help many people who have ostracized affected countries know that there are still safe environments to operate or do their businesses and that there was no need to pack up and leave.

She noted that the cause of the spread of the Ebola virus disease can be attributed to denial and strong family traditions, but assured the EU envoy of government’s collaboration with partners that have now taken full control of the situation and are now working to break transmission.

The Liberian leader expressed serious concern about the livelihood of the population, which she said could be affected by the outbreak.  She welcomed the EU plan for post-Ebola economic recovery assistance; a plan, she said, Liberia was equally working on.

On incentives for health workers, President Sirleaf informed the EU Ambassador that the incentives were now harmonized in line with the sub-region and would be announced soon.

The DEVCO Deputy Director-General was accompanied by head of EU Mission in Liberia, Ambassador Attilo Paciffici.

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