Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan
Minister Ngafuan Shares Liberia’s Ebola Challenges, Optimism At UN
MONROVIA, October 1 (LINA) -Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan has outlined the country's huge economic challenge occasioned by the outbreak of the Ebola virus, while also offering the country's hope in overcoming the situation.
Minister Ngafuan was addressing the 69th United Nations General Assembly on Monday, September 29, on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who, he said, chose to remain on the frontlines in Liberia to lead the country's fight against the virus.
A Foreign Ministry release quotes the Foreign Minister as saying that Ebola has slowed the country's economy, creating a 3.4% downward slide in economic growth, from a high of 5.9% to a low of 2.5% in 2014.
"And some experts have predicted that, if not contained quickly, Ebola could cause a 12% decline in our economy in 2015", he added, stating that Liberia's ability to provide for basic social services and efforts to fund key development projects are being significantly diminished.
Addressing the 69th Session of the world body, he said that as a result of the slowdown in economic activities, Liberia's revenue generation capacity has been seriously undermined resulting in a nearly 20% downward revision of Liberia's budget for Fiscal Year 2014/2015.
Citing the sad tale of a ten-year old kid from Barkedu, Lofa County, who he said is the “last person standing” in a family of twelve, the Foreign Minister told the UN General Assembly that Ebola has widened its deadly circumference and is creating a trail of traumatized orphans across the country.
Comparing the destructive Liberian Civil War to the devastating Ebola virus, Minister Ngafuan noted that unlike the war years during which time Liberians knew the warring factions and the frontlines, Ebola is an enemy he described as 'more insidious' which has no clear-cut frontlines because someone’s child, someone’s husband, someone’s workmate could actually be the enemy and the frontline at the same time.
He then outlined series of steps the Liberian Government has taken since the Ebola outbreak,
They include the declaration of a state of emergency, suspension of schools, the constructive involvement of all stakeholders incorporating pastors, imams, chiefs, elders, youths, government officials and opposition politicians.
Other measures are the stepping-up of awareness and prevention campaigns to address the crystallized denial and deeply rooted traditional and cultural practices that create a fertile ground for the spread of the disease, and committing to significant portions of the country's own paltry resources to the fight.
The release adds that the Foreign Minister used the occasion to express the country's gratitude to the international community including the UN Secretary-General and leaders of friendly countries and institutions he said through separate and joint appeals of the Heads of State of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been showing a better understanding and deeper appreciation of the unprecedented scope and magnitude of the Ebola outbreak in the three most affected countries.
He said, "There is a chorus of leaders advocating and committing to support more robust, scaled up and urgent assistance to the affected countries".