1 September 2014

West Africa: A Call for Appointment of ECOWAS Special Envoy on Ebola

Photo: Boakai Fofana / AllAfrica
With the quarantine lifted in Monrovia's West Point neighborhood, trading slowly recommences in the sprawling business district nearby.

Dakar — Civil Society Statement on the Current Ebola Crisis in West Africa:

In light of the current epidemic of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa, we the undersigned civil society organizations call on ECOWAS member states to appoint a leading, influential, strong and knowledgeable West African physician or health professional as ECOWAS Special Envoy on Ebola.

The current epidemic, which has been characterized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the deadliest Ebola outbreak since this virus was discovered in 1976, has claimed the lives of at least 1,552 people in West Africa including many health personnel. We applaud and support the brave work of the health personnel who continue to put their lives at risk in the care of victims of Ebola despite very difficult working environment. We stand in solidarity with our brothers, sisters, families, and communities who are battling for their lives and struggling to care for loved ones.

West African economies are feeling the impact of the world’s worst outbreak of Ebola. Travel and trade restrictions are limiting the deployment of medical personnel, equipment and commodities adding to the deadly risk that the EVD already poses to the communities and the economies of the affected countries and the region. This epidemic has exposed the challenges of our public health systems and our governance institutions. The recently released WHO roadmap predicts that 20,000 people may ultimately be infected in this outbreak. Therefore, the challenge ahead is steep and a lot of work has to be done urgently to stem this dangerous situation and avoid an even greater catastrophe.

Cross-border coordination and collaboration necessary to stem the spread of Ebola has been haphazard and chaotic. While closure of borders may provide short term relief, it is not proving an effective way of controlling the virus and is also an impediment to cross-border technical support and humanitarian assistance, giving rise to new food security challenges.

The challenge of the current epidemic calls for urgent, unified and concerted efforts by ECOWAS and the international community. Since regional collaboration and coordination have been the main impediments in the management of this epidemic, we particularly appreciate and welcome the decision of ECOWAS to put in place a regional monitoring mechanism composed of two entities: the ministerial coordination group chaired by the Ghanaian health minister and a technical monitoring workgroup with members such as WHO Afro and the West African Health Organization (WAHO).

The work of this monitoring mechanism should continue even in the post-Ebola period given the negative impact that the epidemic is having on health systems, on economies, and on social ties and community relations.

For these reasons, we urge the appointment of the ECOWAS Special Envoy on Ebola. Such an envoy will complement the efforts of WHO’s envoy Dr David Nabarro, help draw attention to the public health and humanitarian challenges posed by Ebola and become a regional voice and leader for a regional response plan led by African and international contributors. The Envoy could also be the voice calling for effective management and coordination of cross-border transportation and logistics. The challenge we face is extraordinary and ECOWAS needs to create a specialized platform to address this.

We urge all ECOWAS member States to push for this resolution and to develop a concrete plan for operationalizing effective coordination. We call on the international community to provide needed assistance in ensuring that the response to Ebola in the region is effective, humane and sustainable.

We acknowledge that the efforts of ECOWAS and the international community can only yield results if residents of the region do their part. Hence, we also urge the populations and all civil society organizations to show more solidarity by providing support to populations that are affected by EVD and be cautious by observing the preventive and protective measures identified by the WHO.

Under-signed CSOs :

1. Action Aid Liberia
2. ActionAid Nigeria
3. African Artists’ Foundation
6. Alliance des femmes pour l’Egalité et le Genre en Guinée (AFEGGUI)
7. Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE)
8. Association des Femmes Journalistes de Guinée (AFJ/Guinée)
9. Association des Juristes Sénégalaises (AJS)
10. Association Mains Solidaires (AMAS)
11. Association of Community Radio Stations (ALICOR)
12. Avocats pour les Droits de l’Homme - Guinee (ADHG)
13. Avocats Sans Frontières Guinée
14. Bassa Women Development Association
15. Bassa Youth Caucus
16. Brekete Family Empowerment Project
17. CAUSE-Africa
18. CDD Ghana
19. Center for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) - Sierra Leone
20. Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD)
21. Center for Justice and Peace Studies
22. Center for Media Studies and Peace Building
23. Center for Social Justice (Censoj)
24. Center for Transparency and Accountability
25. Centre LSD
26. Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
27. Community Development and Research Agency
28. Community Life Project – Nigeria
29. Conseil National des Organisations de la Société Civile de Guinée (CNOSCG)
30. Council for the Development of Research in Social Sciences in Africa (CODESRIA)
31. Creative Media Centre For Development
32. CSO Ebola Response Taskforce – Liberia
33. Décentralisation Droits Humains Développement Local (ONG 3D)
34. Development & Integrity Intervention Goal Foundation (DIG Nigeria)
35. Development Education Network Liberia
36. EARS for the Masses
37. Elections Coordinating Committee
38. ENDA Tiers Monde
39. Forum Civil – Sénégal
40. Gender Peace Network
41. Human Development Initiatives – Nigeria
42. IBIS
44. Initiative for Positive Change
45. Institute for Research and Democratic Development
46. Institute of Governance Reform – Sierra Leone
47. Integrity Organization Ltd (GTE)
48. L’Association Béninoise de Droit Constitutionnel (ABDC)
50. Liberia Feminist Forum
51. Liberia Media and Democratic Initiative
52. Liberia Media Center
53. Liberia Women Media Action Committee
54. MacJim Foundation
55. Maison de la Presse Guinee
56. Mano River Women Peace Network
57. Media Rights Agenda – Nigeria
58. Meme Droits pour Tous Guinee
59. National Civil Society Association of Liberia
60. National Civil Society Council of Liberia
61. National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections (NAYMOTE)
62. Natural Resource Management Consortium
63. Network Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (NMDHR)
64. Network of National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa (NNHRI-WA)
65. New African Research Development Agency
66. ONG SOS-Civisme/Niger
67. Organisation Catholique pour la Promotion Humaine - Guinée
68. Partners for Electoral Reforms
69. Plateforme des Acteurs Non Etatiques pour le suivi des accords de Cotonou (ANE/PF)
70. Platform for Dialogue and Peace
71. Policy and Legislative Advocacy Center (PLAC)
72. Press Union of Liberia
73. Public and Private Development Centre
74. Public Health Initiative
75. Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits de l’Homme – Guinée
76. Responsible Citizenship and Human Development Initiative
77. Rights & Rice Foundation
78. Save Nigeria Group (SNG)
79. Say No Campaign (SNC) Nigeria
80. Search for Common Ground
81. Security Sector Working Group
82. Social Watch Benin
83. Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
84. Special Emergency to Restore Children Hope
85. Support Initiative for Sustainable Development (SISDEV)
86. The Centre for Democracy and Development (Nigeria)
87. TrustAfrica
88. Union des Radios Associatives et Communautaires du Sénégal (URAC)
89. UPMB-Benin
90. WACAM - Ghana
91. WANEP -Benin
92. West Africa Civil Society Forum (WACSOF)
93. West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI)
94. West African Network for Peace Building
95. Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia
96. Young Men Christian Association of Liberia
97. Young Women Christian Association
98. Youth in Technology and Arts Network
99. Youth Initiative for Growth and Advancement (YIAGA)
100. Zorzor Women Development Association
101. Open Society Initiative for West Africa

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