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Liberia Calls for Rebuilding Plan      03/03 06:09

   BRUSSELS (AP) -- Liberia's president on Tuesday called for an international 
aid plan to help rebuild economies in West Africa once Ebola is under control.

   Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Tuesday that "we need our international partners 
to remain committed to us," as the number of deaths from the disease approaches 
10,000.

   Sirleaf told fellow regional leaders and delegates at a major international 
conference on Ebola in Brussels that rebuilding economies devastated by the 
outbreak is a long-term and costly task.

   She said that "the most important long-term response to Ebola rests on plans 
and strategies for economic recovery," adding that "this will require 
significant resources, perhaps even a Marshall Plan."

   The outbreak is focused in an area of West Africa about the size of France, 
with a population of about 20 million people, and where infrastructure is 
limited. Even if the number of new Ebola cases in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra 
Leone has dropped significantly, bringing it down to zero will still take a 
significant effort.

   Ebola has hurt the three countries' already fragile economies, shifting 
resources resulting in other health care problems and hurting business as 
people grew scared to leave their homes or go to markets.

   Some $4.9 billion has been pledged internationally to the Ebola effort, but 
less than half, some $2.4 billion, has actually been disbursed.

   Nevertheless, important progress has been made as the number of new cases of 
Ebola has dropped to around 100 per week, down from 800-900 at the height of 
the outbreak in August and September.

   But experts and officials warn that eradicating the last cases poses a huge 
challenge, requiring everyone to be located and treated, and the close 
monitoring of all people they may have come in contact with.

   "It's very important to step up our vigilance and support," said Guinea's 
president, Alpha Conde.

   The head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent 
Societies also warned against any loss of momentum.

   "The Ebola outbreak is not over and complacency, both at local and global 
levels, would be one of our worst enemies," said Elhadj As Sy.


(KA)


 
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