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‘UNMEER will not urge gov’t to reopen schools’

…Spokesperson avers

January 21, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi

UNMEER Spokesperson, Fatoumata Lejeune

UNMEER Spokesperson, Fatoumata Lejeune

Spokesperson for the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) has said during an interactive session with a cross section of the local media that the mandate of the mission is to respond to the deadly Ebola disease which has killed thousands of people in the affected West African countries, to collaborate with respective governments to put an end to the pandemic, and not to urge governments on certain policies.

Madam Fatoumata Lejeune noted that there is a remarkable decrease in the infection rate of the deadly Ebola virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone but that most of the structures put in place by the respective countries can be reassessed based on the respective situations.

She noted that though the Guinean government has reopened schools, yet the government of Sierra Leone will look at the situation and respond appropriately, stressing that they cannot urge the government to reopen schools but to work closely to bring the disease to zero infection rate.

“UNMEER office is based in Accra, Ghana and our responsibility is to respond to the Ebola disease in collaboration with the various countries involved and international partners. The number of infection is going down and our idea is to bring it to zero,” said Madam Lejeune. “Our interventions have been very great. We have been giving logistic and technical support to partners and governments to fight the disease.”

The UN Secretary General, according to Lejeune, takes the Ebola outbreak very seriously. “Two entities were created: one was to mobilize resources and the other to directly involve in the operations,” she said.

On the issue of the reopening of schools, she said the government of Guinea requested for the supply of chlorine, buckets and capacity building for teachers so that best practices can be observed.

“This varies by country. In Sierra Leone, the government is yet to open schools; this is to ensure that the cases are reduced drastically so that children can now go to school without any problem, but it is not our responsibility to force government to reopen schools,” Madam Lejeune maintained, adding that a group of UNMEER officers will soon travel to Mali to congratulate the government of Mali for ending the disease, but to also strengthen response mechanism in case of an eventuality.

She said UNMEER has brought in more vehicles and telecommunication equipment to further help eradicate the disease in the sub-region.