5 August 2014

Liberia: More Cars, More Corpses - Amid Mass Graves, UNDP Donates to GOL

Monrovia — As the Ebola crisis in Liberia becomes alarming with dead bodies uncollected in several communities resulting to protest from residents and the wanton burial, the National task Force setup by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf continues to receive goodwill from Liberians and donors.

Within a week since the President established the task force which she chairs, there has been numerous donations by Liberians in cash and through other means to the taskforce but the work has become burdensome to the extent that health workers are caring less about the warning to citizens not to come anywhere near Ebola dead.

In several communities bodies of suspected Ebola victims which should kept away from people have remained uncollected for days while the burial team also in one community hastily disposed of Ebola dead, some of which were not totally buried but left floating over the water.

In continuation of the goodwill, the United Nations Development Program Monday donated four vehicles to the Ebola Task Force.

According D. Emmanuel Wheinyue, media consultant at the Ministry of Internal Affairs the UNDP provided four vehicles to the Ebola Task Force presented to Internal Affairs

Minister Morris Dukuly who is also co-chair of the task force.

Wheinyue told FrontPageAfrica that the vehicles include three Toyota Land Cruisers and one Toyota Hilux valued at over US$122,000.

The Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General (DSRSD) Mr. Antonio Vigilante made the donation on behalf of the UNDP.

Vigilante at the donation Monday, said the vehicles are intended to remedy the challenging areas by solving some of the logistical constraints facing health workers and the task force.

According to Wheinyue, the vehicles were procured by the UNDP for use by the Peace Building Office at the Internal Affairs Ministry under the program Strengthening Local Mechanism Project but due to the crisis the vehicles were transferred to the Ebola Task force.

Minister Dukuly receiving the vehicles thanked the UNDP for the donation and said the donation comes at a critical time when they are needed for the work of the task force.

On behalf of the Ebola Task Force, Minister Dukuly said it could have been no other time for the vehicles to come than current when it is essential to the work of the task force.

The donation comes at a time Liberians are complaining about the inability of the Ministry of Health to deal with the Ebola outbreak. Patients are left unattended to in several communities as calls by residents to the health Ministry Ebola team sometimes yield no results.

Liberia has a history of not managing donations very well as in many cases vehicles provided for such purposes are used by officials normally dressed in their normal office attire.

Until recently, several vehicles marked Ebola Response were seen plying the streets with coat suits wearing officials instead of health workers on the frontline against the Ebola virus wearing the garments used by those attending to Ebola patients.

Health workers have become victims of the outbreak with over 20 now dead as result of contracting the virus while caring for patients.

Recently FrontPageAfrica gathered that nurses and other health workers were protesting for improved benefits in the wake of the danger posed by the Ebola outbreak.

Accordingly, President Sirleaf instructed Minister Dukuly to appeal to the health workers to be calm promising that their concerns will be addressed.

Financial Institutions plan big Packages

FrontPageAfrica has gathered that international financial institutions including the World Bank, the African development Bank and others will shortly announce packages to the three affected countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Accordingly, the packages will surpass the $100 million appeal by the World Health Organization to fight the virus in the three countries.

Reuters reports that International development banks are preparing a package of emergency loans for three West African countries hit by the deadly Ebola virus, bank officials said on Monday as African leaders gathered in Washington for a U.S.-hosted summit focusing on the region.

African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka told Reuters the bank would immediately disburse funds to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, whose health systems have been stretched by the outbreak. The worst outbreak of Ebola ever has killed nearly 900 people since it began in February.

Bank officials said the funding was close to $60 million.

"These countries need structural support to build up their health systems" still recovering from years of conflict, Kaberuka said. "We have the science; we have the ability, and the means to contain this thing. I am confident of that," he said.

The World Bank is set to announce funding for each of the countries after approval by its board, bank officials said. They declined to elaborate on the amount of the funds until shareholder countries have authorized the funding.

"We're putting together a substantial emergency package for the three countries and will announce it early this week," a bank official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But some sources have indicated that the World Bank is planning to announce a whopping $ 200 million aid package to the three countries.

The United States will also provide more help to the affected countries and to international agencies responding to the outbreak, providing equipment and technical expertise, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday.

Senior State Department officials were meeting with Guinean President Alpha Conde and representatives from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria on Monday to discuss U.S. support, Reuters reports.

Liberia and Sierra Leone's presidents canceled their plans to attend the summit to deal with the outbreak at home, although they have sent delegations to the meetings.

Nearly 50 African leaders are attending the economic, security and diplomatic summit through Wednesday.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday that the United States was "taking the appropriate precautions" and that some participants at the summit would be screened for exposure to the virus.

A second American aid worker who contracted the hemorrhagic virus while helping fight the disease in West Africa was expected to arrive in Atlanta on Tuesday, according to Christian mission group SIM USA.

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