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Summary: 10 July 2015, New York – Remarks by EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, and EU Ebola Coordinator Christos Stylianides at the International Ebola Recovery Conference, United Nations.

– Check against delivery –

Thank you, Mr Secretary-General, Madam Administrator,

Excellences, Ministers, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me thank the Secretary-General for his initiative in calling this important Conference. It allows us all to rally behind the recovery plans of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Building on the process launched in Brussels in March and developed at the spring meetings in Washington. It is the first opportunity to put real funding commitments behind those national plans.

But it is also a key opportunity for us to agree on how to mesh the long-term recovery with the emergency response. And how to ensure that preparedness is hard-wired into recovery, because we are not out of the woods yet. And because Ebola could return even once we are down to zero.

Getting to zero

But let’s remind ourselves: the fight to get down to zero is not over. The new cases in Liberia are a stark reminder of this. Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have gone through so much that we cannot let up now. Let me pay tribute here to the heroic effort of health workers from the three countries. Their populations, as well as international health workers – from Africa, from Europe and all other continents, working through NGOs and international organizations or bilaterally.

We need to keep our level of engagement in the emergency response. That is why we are keeping our European mobile labs in the region, as well as staff from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control maintaining our medical evacuation system for all international health workers, and continuing to support the response on the ground for as long as it is needed.

Preparedness

The new cases in Liberia also show that we need to focus on preparedness. Not only in the three countries affected, but also in the wider region in neighbouring countries which we know to be vulnerable, and beyond.

Are we absolutely sure that we now have reliable systems and protocols in place everywhere – to deal with an outbreak? To isolate cases and trace contacts? To ensure communities know how to react?

The EU is already supporting WHO and the Red Cross for region-wide preparedness activities. We are also looking at the scope for supporting regional or pan-African centres for disease control, which potentially have a crucial role to play in tackling future outbreaks. And we need to carry through in a very short space of time the vital work on vaccine and treatment research which was launched at the height of the epidemic, because research is a vital part of preparedness.

 

But above all, we also now need a very honest stock-taking on preparedness,  and on the gaps. Making sure we have basic healthcare in place. Making sure countries are able to implement the International Health Regulations, in West Africa – but also in Europe, and elsewhere. Collectively, when the next big epidemic hits, we cannot afford to have the same gaps we had in early 2014. We cannot afford to rely again on one organization – MSF – to do much of the heavy lifting.

We also need to make sure we build preparedness firmly into the ongoing recovery effort. We cannot wind down the emergency response without being sure that adequate national capacities to respond are being built up, which will take time.

Recovery

Mr Secretary-General, Madam Administrator, let me commend the three governments on the recovery strategies they have presented.

I am very pleased to announce today that the European Commission will support the recovery plans of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone with a total of € 450 million in development assistance over the next 24 months. This is in addition to the € 210 million of development assistance already pledged. Of which € 70 million has so far been disbursed. And it is additional to the funding we have made available for research – €140 million, and for humanitarian response – close to € 70 million.

Our total development support therefore now comes to € 660 million, all of it in the form of grants.

Our pledge is based on a portfolio of projects agreed with the three governments, in support of their development plans. € 171 million will be implemented in Sierra Leone, € 149 million in Guinea, € 121 million in Liberia, and € 8 million in regional projects. Because we are convinced that regional cooperation is crucial – both to defeat Ebola, and to be better prepared for future crises.

Our funding will go to sectors that are at the heart of the three countries’ recovery strategies. But we are also putting dedicated resources into urgently needed early recovery activities. Through our AWARE programme, which is making € 28 million available rapidly for projects including in health, water and sanitation, and education. And we are launching a specific programme to help Ebola orphans and other vulnerable children.

As we support the recovery process, it will be crucial that we do things differently. That we do not return to business as usual. Working in accordance with the New Deal principles is part of this. Ensuring improved governance, transparency and accountability. Peace and state-building goals are important, for sustainable recovery and to build resilience to future shocks, focussing on results, every step of the way. And we should make sure the private sector is involved.

Lessons learned

Mr Secretary-General, let me make one final remark: to underline the importance of your initiative in appointing a high-level panel on global response to health crises, because we need not only to build preparedness at the local and regional level, but also to have the right systems at the global level – to prevent, to alert, to respond. This is crucial.

 

Lessons learned are indeed the key. The Commission and the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union will therefore co-organise on 12-14 October in Luxembourg a conference on “Ebola: Lessons learned”.

Mr Secretary-General, Excellences, thank you very much. I look forward to a constructive discussion and generous pledges.

  • Ref: SP15-016EN
  • EU source: 
  • UN forum: 
  • Date: 10/7/2015

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