….Amb. Thomas Greenfield Tells Ellen
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has welcomed former United States Ambassador to Liberia Linda Thomas-Greenfield with an elbow greeting, suggesting that Ebola is still present in the country, despite reports that the virus is waning.
The audience grinned as the Liberian leader used her elbow to welcome the American envoy who arrived in the country two days ago as head of a 10-member U.S. delegation to Liberia.
Liberia is not a strange terrain to Ambassador Thomas who currently serves as United States Assistant Secretary for African Affairs at the State Department. She's well known across the country, especially amongst civil society.
In a statement, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield praised the efforts of President Johnson Sirleaf and the Liberian government for the tremendous progress made thus far in combating the Ebola virus disease.
“You have done a tremendous job, Madam President, with your team to bring us to a place today where we can see with some confidence that things are getting better,” Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield said; but warned that there is still a lot of work to be done. She urged Liberians not to change the practices that have been put in place to ensure that this disease is conquered.
According to an Executive Mansion release, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield made the comments during a joint press stakeout along with President Sirleaf and her colleague, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict, Mr. Michael Lumpkin in the Foyer of the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, December 3, 2014.
They are on a three-day visit to assess the current state of Liberia's fight against the Ebola virus disease, specifically U.S. support to the fight.
She particularly recognized the efforts of the U.S. military alongside the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) especially the coordination between the two militaries to address this problem.
She pledged the U.S. Government's support in addressing Liberia's humanitarian and development challenges. “I can commit that we will continue to work with the Liberian Government as it moves into the recovery and reconstruction phases,” she confirmed, noting that it's going to be a huge challenge not only for Liberia but other countries in the sub-region affected by the Ebola virus disease, noting that the U.S. Government would possibly undertake a regional approach in dealing with the reconstruction issues.
Also making comments, Assistant Secretary of Defense Lumpkin said, though the U.S. military and the Department of Defense is only a piece of the whole of the U.S. Government's response in support of Liberia and to end the scourge of Ebola, the progress made so far is outstanding.
“The team work between the U.S. Government, our international partners with the Government of Liberia is stunning,” he admitted, but noted that there is still much more work to be done and they at the Department of Defense looks forward to supporting the United States Aid for International Development (USAID) and the whole of the U.S. and Liberian Governments in its efforts.
Welcoming Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of Defense Lumpkin and delegation, President Sirleaf, on behalf of the Government and people of Liberia, thanked them for the great support the country has received and through them United States President Barack Obama who took some major decisions to support countries worse affected by the Ebola virus disease.
“As a result of their strong support endorsed by a bi-partisan Congress, we have been able to make the progress that we have made,” she emphasized, noting that the visit provides an opportunity to exchange views on how far Liberia has come in the fight against the Ebola virus disease.
The Liberian leader noted that as the fight against the virus is still on, the U.S. delegation's visit was for both governments to discuss elevating the partnership from treatment to prevention by giving more communities responsibility and control as well as rebuilding our healthcare system to ensure that there is no reoccurrence even as the country moves to the next phase of economic recovery.
While in Liberia, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and delegation flew to Bong County to visit the US funded Ebola virus disease laboratory, a safe burial site, as well as the Bong County Ebola treatment unit. They also observed an Ebola survivors' seminar for healthcare workers at the National Police Training Academy in Paynesville City.
The former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia also held meetings with officials of the United Nations Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), United Nations Missions in Liberia (UNMIL), World Health Organization (WHO), World Food Program (WFP) and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia Brigadier General Daniel Ziankhan, among others.