For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Contact: Dorinda White, 202.495.1054; email@example.com
African Diaspora And Civil Society Leaders Call For More Robust U.S. And Global Coordination On Ebola
Washington, DC--Believe in Africa (BIA), an association of former U.S. government and African affairs staffers, convened a press conference on Thursday, September 11, 2014 on the Senate Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, with the Congressional African Staff Association, members of the diplomatic corps, and other signatories to a joint declaration that urges the United States and international community to meaningfully commit to a coordinated global Ebola response.
Senate Chaplain Black began the press conference by offering a prayer for the West African nations and all the workers, volunteers and experts seeking to “to turn tragedy into triumph." Bishop Darlington Johnson, chair of the African Immigrant Caucus, a native of Liberia, who has lost several church members to the virus, stated "It is very important to us that whatever resources are available be mobilized to fight this thing quickly.”
Angelle Kwemo, Founder of Believe in Africa, stated “Today the African continent is emerging, but the Ebola outbreak represents one of the biggest tests of our generation. It will take global solidarity, compassion, sacrifice, hard work, commitment and resiliency for Ebola to be defeated and Africa will move forward.”
H.E. Omar Arouna, Ambassador of the Republic of Benin stated, “Benin is a transitive country, bordering Nigeria. It is therefore imperative that the spread be controlled before it become too late.”
Believe In Africa (BIA) is an African diaspora-led non-profit organization founded by former U.S. congressional staffers, African diaspora leaders and friends of Africa in the U.S., to empower young Africans, harness the power of the African diaspora, educate policymakers and the public about African economic growth, and highlight the continent’s gradual rise in the global community.
The West African Ebola epidemic began with an infant in Meliandou, Guinea in December 2013, but remained largely undetected until March 2014 when it began to spread across the region. As of September 2014, the virus has spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal, and the region has suffered from a lack of a coordinated response to end this global health emergency.
The West African epidemic is the deadliest Ebola outbreak since the discovery of the virus in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in Sudan and Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). The strain active in this epidemic, the Zaire Ebola virus, has the highest mortality rate of 50-90 percent. As of August 26, 2014, the World Health Organization reported a total of 3,069 cases and 1552 deaths (1752 cases and 897 deaths being laboratory confirmed). The World Health Organization warns that 20,000 people could be infected before it is brought under control.
The West African Ebola epidemic is a serious global security issue and requires a strengthened, more coordinated global response. The World Health Organization estimates more than $600 million will be needed to contain the epidemic and much more will be required to bring lasting recovery to the region.
In recognition of the severe impact this virus has had on West Africa, members of the international community have escalated their commitments to and shown solidarity with affected communities.
We stand in solidarity with African leaders, governments and citizenries that are fighting hard against Ebola and assure them that we are working diligently to mobilize support from all stakeholders to swiftly end the threat of Ebola.
We applaud those local first responders, medical personnel, and international health workers who have selflessly risked their lives and committed their time, hearts, and resources to aid their neighbors during this global health emergency.
We applaud the Obama Administration for appointing a senior level government official to oversee, manage and coordinate the United States' whole-of-government response to this Ebola outbreak.
We applaud the House Appropriations Committee for including $58 million and $30 million for Ebola research and response through the United States Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control, respectively, within H.J. Res. 124, the 2015 Continuing Appropriations Resolution.
We applaud the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs Chairman and Ranking Member Chris Coons and Jeff Flake, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman and Ranking Member Robert Menendez and Bob Corker, and Senator Richard Durbin for introducing a bipartisan resolution to recognize the severe threat posed by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to populations, governments, and economies across Africa and, if not properly contained, to regions across Africa.
We applaud the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations Chairman Christopher Smith for introducing a HR 4847, legislation to facilitate effective research on and treatment of Neglected Tropical Diseases through coordinated domestic and international efforts.
We applaud the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations Ranking Member Karen Bass and other members of Congress for introducing a bipartisan resolution in the United States Congress declaring the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia the largest recorded outbreak of the disease and calling on the U.S. to work with international health organizations to stem the tide of the epidemic.
We applaud the United States Agency for International Development for committing nearly $100 million in aid to help West Africa treat and stem the tide of Ebola.
We applaud the United States Department of Defense for the logistical and medical support it has provided and will increase providing in West Africa to aid international health workers.
We applaud the World Bank for its commitment of $230 million to help Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to contain the proliferation of the virus, mitigate the economic impact of the epidemic, and improve public health systems throughout West Africa.
We applaud the other multilateral commitments of the responsible community of nations, including the World Health Organization for creating a $100 million Ebola response plan and devising a workable roadmap to coordinate global efforts, the African Development Bank for committing $210 million and providing $50 million in grants, and the European Union for committing €140.9 million.
We applaud the government of Ghana for allowing Kotoka International Airport in Accra to serve as an air bridge for medical response, allowing large aircraft from all over the world to land and smaller planes to shuttle personnel and supplies in and out of areas of need in the region.
We applaud private donors like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 3M, Ecolab, Ecobank, Coca-Cola, UPS, the Dangote Foundation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for committing resources to affected countries, conducting research for a cure, and calling upon other private sectors leaders to do the same.
We applaud and support repeated calls for solidarity made by African leaders like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former First Lady Graca Machel, Bineta Diop, and others to lift the flight embargo on affected countries, for African civil society to appoint an ECOWAS special envoy on Ebola, and for neighboring countries to commit to a robust regional response.
We believe Africa’s economies are on the rise and can capably and committedly shoulder this challenge. We believe Africa’s future depends on the commitment of its people and their ability to sustain the social and economic progress registered in recent years.
We believe the public and private sector, African civil society, and the United States together with the international community should prioritize assistance in maintaining Africa’s economic growth as a global security imperative.
We believe a more aggressive and coordinated effort must to be undertaken by all international stakeholders to combat, eradicate, treat and prevent this deadly disease wherever it occurs.
Therefore, be it resolved that:
We urge the United States Congress to urgently pass pending legislation to combat Ebola.
We urge the African diaspora in the United States, friends of Africa, the United Nations and other multilateral agencies missing in the response, United States government officials and Members of Congress, the private sector, the media, all civil society, and prominent figures, artists, athletes, and entertainers to join forces and:
actively take part in public information and education campaigns on prevention and transmission of the Ebola virus;
help provide humanitarian relief to the affected countries, including funding, food, nutrition, medical supplies, and medical workers;
ensure the immediate and unfettered flow of humanitarian assistance into West Africa;
fund, facilitate and make immediately available access to all known methods of prevention and treatment of this serious threat to our global security.
Ambassador Diane Watson
Former Member of Congress
Ambassador Robin R. Sanders, FEEEDS
Founder & Chair, Believe in Africa
Bishop Darlington Johnson
African Immigrant Caucus
President & CEO, Africare
President & CEO
Constituency For Africa
President & CEO
The Africa Society Summit on Africa
Serge Yondou, PhD,
MBA Report Writer
Africa Center for Strategic Studies
President, IDGE Global LLC
Jeannette Kah Le Guil
Maison d’Oeuvres pour le Développement Economique et du Leadership pour la Côte d’Ivoire
Marcia L Dyson
CEO and Founder
Women's Global Initiative
Pius Kamau MD
AAHEP and CADUS
James C. Deutsch, PhD
Vice President, Conservation Strategy
Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Africa Program
Wildlife Conservation Society
Bradford E. Brown Ph.D.
First Vice President Miami Dade
Steve B. Richer
Patricia F. Ware
President & CEO
The Ware Development Group, Inc.
Global Humanitarian Photojournalists