EU Promises To Remain Engaged In Ebola Response

By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy

The European Union has reiterated its commitment to providing the amount of US$ 181 million in package of funding to the countries affected with the Ebola virus in West Africa, most of which will be used in Liberia.

Addressing journalists last Friday which climaxed the delegation’s visit to Liberia as a mark of the EU’s citizens’ solidarity towards the EU funded actions and engagement on the Ebola situation in the country, the head of EU’s high level visiting delegation, Marcus Cornaro said there is only one system in this fight and pledged the EU’s commitment to supporting this one system in eradicating the virus.

He promised that all EU’s current and planned financed development cooperation actions will remain in place which include ongoing programs in areas such as budget support, infrastructure, health and forestry.

The EU’s Deputy Director General for Development Cooperation also said EU is still committed to making available some $ 279 million Euros over the next seven years against its planned new programs in the education, energy, governance and agricultural sectors.

He said the EU’s support to Liberia has so far focused on providing financial means for the daily frontline agencies like Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the International Federation of Red Crescent Societies (ICRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in its fight against the virus.

Discussing EU’s support, Mr. Cornaro outlined an additional payment of about US$ 10 million recently provided the Liberian government as direct budgetary support and that would be followed by others up to a total of US$ 65 million to mitigate the impact on government’s finances due to the loss of revenue caused by the Ebola outbreak.

He disclosed how his delegation had met with top government officials and held discussion on how the EU will roll out quickly additional support due in for 2014/15, and explained more in detail the types of Ebola assistances his organization will bring to the country and how it will engage in carrying out some of the programs already ongoing.

Flanked by Dr. Philippe Maughan, Director General of ECHO Humanitarian Aid, Mr. Cornaro told reporters that the international community has a role to play because if they are to help to contain something it should only be the disease not to contain or stigmatize the population affected or to stigmatize or isolate communities or individuals affected noting that it is the wrong message.

Meanwhile, the EU’s West African package will be divided into three categories and that includes $ 38 Euros going toward strengthening healthcare systems, food security, water and sanitation, $ 5 million for mobile laboratories for the detection of the virus and training health care workers and $ 97. 5 million will be spent for budget support operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone to reinforce governments’ capacity in delivering public service.