LIBERIA: ECOWAS Urges International Community’s Assistance To Fight Ebola ; Terms It Regional Threat

In the wake of the outbreak of the Ebola Haemorrheagic fever in the Republic of Guinea, which has reportedly spread to neighboring Liberia, the Mediation and Security Council of ECOWAS, comprising Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense of the ECOWAS sub-region, has expressed deep concern over the outbreak, which it considers a threat to regional security.

In a communiqué issued by the Mediation and Security Council at the end of its 31st Meeting in Yamoussokro, Cote d’Ivoire on March 25, 2014, the Council underscored the need for a robust regional response in putting a halt to the further spread of the deadly scourge.  The Council called on the President of the ECOWAS Commission, in consultation with the West African Health Organization (WAHO), to take appropriate and swift actions to mobilize the stakeholders and the needed resources to stem out the epidemic from the region. The Council also appealed to the International Community to assist the affected countries in the management of the Ebola epidemic in the region.

Speaking on the issue during the Council’s Meeting, Liberian Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan and his Guinean counterpart, Lounceny Fall, separately informed the Council about the extent to which the deadly disease has impacted their respective countries and steps that had been taken by their respective governments along with other partners to contain the outbreak.

Minister Ngafuan, quoting reports from the Liberian Ministry of Health, informed that the Liberian health facilities along the border with Guinea had recorded four deaths of Guineans Ebola victims who had crossed into Liberia for treatment. The Liberian Foreign Minister further informed the Council that, considering the contagious nature of the Ebola epidemic and the frequent cross-border movements by citizens of both countries for trading and other purposes, it was important that ECOWAS and other international partners move quickly in assisting Liberia and Guinea in containing the virus.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Minister of Guinea informed the Council that the Government of Guinea has initiated some preliminary measures with a view to preventing the contraction and spread of the Ebola epidemic. These measures include quarantining those diagnosed of the Ebola Haemorraheagic fever; and discouraging the consumption of bats which are believed to be transmitters of the Ebola virus.

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