By Asmau Ahmad with Agency Report
United Nations, Dec. 19, 2014; some delegates on the UN General Assembly’s Committee on Administration and Budget on, Thursday in New York, expressed deep concern over UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), due to paucity of funds.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that members were reacting to the budget proposal for UNMEER for the biennium 2014 to 2015, presented by Ms Susana Malcorra, Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Amb. Kodjovi Dosseh, of Togo, who representing the African Group, expressed concern that the secretary-general’s proposal lacked clarity and detailed information concerning the proposed organisational structure, staffing and resource requirements of the Mission.
Specifically, he expressed concern over its top-heavy structure, which implied that a substantive proportion of the resources were proposed to support overhead, not the actual needs on the ground. The proposal, he said, did not seem to take into account existing mechanisms in the region including those related to leadership, the role of the country teams and other UN system actors. Dosseh said the Group would support approval of the budget for the Mission, with major adjustments to the proposal, as well as the establishment of a separate special account.
He said the Group would be interested in presenting a concrete proposal aimed at ensuring most of the resources were directed to support substantive requirements, including financial assistance, equipment, protective clothing, mobile laboratories and other facilities to the affected countries.
He also emphasised the need for a clear chain of command, accountability and proper governance among many actors involved, so that the UN system, including WHO and World Food Programme, could deliver as one.
Mr Hiroshi Minami, representative of Japan, detailing his country’s role in combating the Ebola crisis, said that it had allocated 55 million dollars, and pledged an additional contribution of up to 100 million dollars to the fight.
Hiroshi said Japan had also sent 11 experts to the affected countries through the WHO mission, with 30 more expected to participate, and provide other in-kind assistance.
He said, the proposed amount of the resource requirements as a whole, as well as where the UNMEER budget belonged in the proposed programme budget, including the first performance report of 2014 to 2015, would be scrutinised.
Also responding, Mr Amadu Koroma, representative of Sierra Leone, said that the unprecedented outbreak of the Ebola disease had created a devastating social and humanitarian crisis with severe negative economic impact, thus reversing the gradual but impressive economic growth in recent years.
Since the outbreak, Koroma said, more than 6,000 Sierra Leoneans had been infected and about 1,500 had died. He said over two thirds of those infected were between the ages of 15 and 55, the most economically vibrant members of the population. The good news, he said, is that as of Dec.14, more than 1,200 cases had been treated and discharged.
Government, Koroma said, is hopeful that by the end of the first quarter of 2015, the disease would be eradicated. He however said that the epidemic had negatively impacted national social development programmes in the country
”If a robust and concerted effort was not maintained to eradicate the Ebola menace, Sierra Leone’s remarkable post-conflict achievement is in danger of complete reversal.
”I urge entire international community to consider making meaningful interventions in rebuilding the nation’s socio-economic infrastructure in the post-Ebola period,” he said,
Another contributor, Ms Justin Kisoka, of the United Republic of Tanzania, associating himself with the Group of 77, China and with the African Group, said the mandate should support local authorities on the ground to establish and strengthen their health infrastructure and activities beyond the Mission’s lifespan.
Earlier, Malcorra while presenting the budget, said that UNMEER, which was established following the adoption of Assembly resolution 69/1 in September, would cease to operate once the Ebola outbreak within the affected countries is contained.
Malcorra said the mission would cease to exist when the Governments of those countries affected felt sufficiently able to transition to a normal Ebola transmission prevention and response approach. To best respond to the challenges of the Ebola crisis across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, she said, the Mission would be configured in a manner where the structure was closely aligned with the four critical lines of action. This she said were case finding (contact tracing, laboratory surveillance); case management; community engagement and social mobilisation; and safe and dignified burials.
She said the resource requirements for the period from Sept.19, to the end of 2015 amounted to 189.6 million dollars, net of staff assessment. She noted that the appropriation would cover 376 positions in the Office of the Special Envoy and UNMEER, and 20 positions in 2014 and nine positions in 2015 at Headquarters for backstopping in the areas of legal support, medical services, finance and budget, procurement and security coordination, as well as operational costs in support of the Mission. In the span of only two and a half months since UNMEER’s original deployment on Sept. 29, she said, considerable progress had been achieved.
The improvements seen illustrated than the four-pronged strategy of isolation, treatment, safe burials and social mobilization was working where it was fully implemented. More people were gaining access to treatment.More contacts were being traced. Burials were becoming safer, and communities were mobilising to protect themselves,” she said. She also explained that the secretary-general’s message that ”Now is not the time to ease our efforts, but rather to redouble them to bring the crisis to a definitive end,” is clear.