What are the needs?
Liberia is one of the least developed countries in the world and it experiences high child and maternal mortality rates. Two-thirds of Liberians live with less than a US dollar per day and, among countries no longer at war, Liberia has the highest number of out-of-school children.
Liberia is one of the countries most affected by the recent Ebola epidemic – the largest on record. The first case was registered on 30 March 2014. Until 9 May 2015, when the country was first declared Ebola-free, there had been 10 675 cases – 4 809 people died.
The disease re-emerged again during 2015, and only on 14 January 2016, the Government of Liberia announced the end of the Ebola transmission.
A 90-day period of heightened surveillance follows the announcement before the disease can be considered entirely defeated. There is a continued risk of re-infection in West Africa, also as the disease is still found in West Africa wildlife. For this reason, the capacity to detect, diagnose, isolate and treat the virus must remain.
Beyond the human tragedy, the disease has had devastating effects on the economies and health care systems of the whole Mano River Union countries (comprising Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire).
With the epidemic under control in the region, the needs shift towards recovery. Strengthening health systems and developing effective emergency preparedness and response systems is crucial. At present the surveillance system, laboratory capacity, isolation units and rapid response mechanisms are being strengthened to address future outbreaks appropriately.
How are we helping?
The EU has been active in the response to the Ebola emergency from the start. All available political, financial and scientific resources to help contain, control, treat and ultimately defeat Ebola have been mobilised.
Since March 2014, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department provided close to €70 million in humanitarian aid to address the most urgent needs in all affected countries.
The funds were channeled through humanitarian partner organizations, including the UN, international organizations and NGOs.
In Liberia, the Commission provided financial support to run 'Ebola treatment centres' and community-based outreach, social mobilisation activities, livelihood recovery projects and health service delivery. Most recently, it supported the training of hospital staff on clinical management of Ebola-related side-effects.
The overall financial contribution of the EU to fight the epidemic amounts to close to €2 billion, including funding from Member States for emergency and recovery measures.
In addition, the European Commission continues to fund a cross-border programme on both sides of the Liberian-Ivoirian border with the aim of improving social cohesion and food security for the for the refugee, returnee and host populations (this is the area where many Ivoirians sought refuge following the 2010 post-electoral violence in their home country). Given the real risk of social unrest and insecurity, the European Commission closely monitors the situation.