Minister Sherlock travels to Sierra Leone to assess response to Ebola outbreak
First European Minister to visit region since outbreak
Minister for Development, Trade Promotion and North South Co-operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, today (1st October) travels to Sierra Leone to witness the impact of the Ebola crisis and assess the effect of the over €1 million in funding provided by Ireland to date.
Minister Sherlock will meet frontline aid workers from Goal, Concern, the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières, in addition to key staff from the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.
He will also meet with the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, and Government representatives to discuss their response to the crisis and the support provided by the international community.
He is the first European Minister to visit Sierra Leone since the Ebola outbreak.
Minister Sherlock will visit an Ebola crisis response centre and a distribution centre for desperately-needed supplies, dispatched by Irish Aid.
Ahead of departing to Freetown, Minister Sherlock said:
“I remain extremely concerned about the situation in West Africa, in particular in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. I want to pay tribute to the Irish public who have responded generously to this crisis.
“My visit this week allows me to demonstrate solidarity with those who have been worst-affected and to assess the response to the crisis by the Government in Freetown and also the work of the international community.
“Irish Aid has provided over €1 million in funding since this crisis began to provide nutritional supplies to children and much-needed blankets, tents, mosquito nets, and water tanks. These are practical measures to try and stem the virus and treat victims.
“More than 5,800 people are reported to have been infected and the World Health Organisation has warned of an exponential increase in cases over the coming months. It is essential that the international community do everything it can to assist the health services in the affected countries as they fight this epidemic,” Minister Sherlock added.
Notes to the editor:
• Irish Aid is the Government’s overseas assistance programme. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. For further information see www.irishaid.ie
• The Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in March 2014 has since spread rapidly to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and most recently Senegal. The WHO has declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
• To date, Ireland has provided funding of €1 million to organisations working on the Ebola response in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
• This includes €600,000 to UNICEF and €350,000 to Concern (€85,100), Goal (€80,000), World Vision Ireland (€40,000), International Rescue Committee (€100,000), Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Liberia (€44,350) to support their community-based programmes which will raise awareness of the transmission and prevention of the disease and to assist in its containment.
• Irish Aid has dispatched 42 tonnes worth of practical equipment including blankets, tarpaulin, tents, mosquito nets, soap bar, jerry cans, and water tanks.
• A further €350,000 has been provided by the Start Fund, which is an NGO pooled fund mechanism supported by Ireland and the UK.
• Sierra Leone is a key partner country for Ireland and bilateral programme aid from Ireland to Sierra Leone was €3.9 million in 2013, with over €2m spent on health and nutrition programmes.
• Liberia is a partner country for Ireland and bilateral programme aid to Liberia from Ireland was €5.6 million in 2013. There is a strong focus on strengthening basic primary health care services.
• In addition to bilateral aid, Ireland provides funding of approximately €6.8 million per annum for long-term development assistance to NGOs, as well as Irish missionaries, in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. This supports programmes in the areas of health, food and livelihoods, education and human rights.
• Ireland is also contributing human resources - the Department of Health has deployed two public health specialists to work with WHO to assist efforts in both Liberia and Nigeria.