Statement by SRSG Karin Landgren at Programme Marking the End of the Ebola Outbreak in Liberia

11 May 2015

Statement by SRSG Karin Landgren at Programme Marking the End of the Ebola Outbreak in Liberia

Your Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, Mr President [His Excellency, President of the Republic of Togo], Honourable invitees, All protocol observed;

I'm privileged to have served in Liberia as the head of the United Nations during all phases of the Ebola epidemic, and to stand with you today as we celebrate an Ebola-free Liberia.  

Four thousand seven hundred and sixteen (4,716) people lost their lives to Ebola in Liberia.  Please accept our condolences.  We mourn all who died.  Two were UNMIL personnel.

We comforted - and isolated - other UN staff who lost close relatives to Ebola and anxiously remained at-risk themselves for weeks. We experienced the fear, the uncertainty, the imposition of mandatory health routines, and the struggle better to understand this virus as UNMIL stood with you.  

Two other UNMIL personnel were among the thousands who survived, and we are very grateful for the care they received.  Now there is an opportunity to create a new healthcare system, with the foundations to mitigate future public health crises. Let me take this opportunity to recognize the important work that UNMEER performed in Liberia and continues in Sierra Leone and Guinea to bring the entire region to zero cases. I am also proud of the work of the UNMIL and the entire UN Country Team in Liberia in support of the Government-led response.  The United Nations, the African Union, NGOs, bilateral partners, and Liberian agencies worked collaboratively together across the country at the height of this complex crisis.

When Ebola peaked in Liberia last August and September, something remarkable happened to turn around the raging epidemic.  The decisive factors deserve close study.  Perhaps the greatest lesson is to nurture the initiative of Liberia’s communities.  Liberians pulled together, and the spread of the virus abated.  We congratulate all Liberians, and encourage you to remember, even through your pain, the pride of Liberia prevailing, over all!

Last week I urged members of the UN Security Council, and all of Liberia's partners, to continue giving this country steady support in the years to come.  I am confident that the tragedy overcome, - Ebola -, has inspired Liberians to build an even more united and inclusive country, with the strength of your communities at the very roots. Long live Liberia!