Speeches & Transcripts

Remarks at Press Conference Following High-Level Roundtable on Ebola

April 17, 2015

President of Guinea Alpha Condé, President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Sierra Leone Ernest Bai Koroma , World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Press Conference Following High-Level Roundtable on Ebola Washington, D.C., United States


MODERATOR:  So ladies and gentlemen, we're thrilled to begin our press conference.  We'll be speaking in this order.  I'm going to ask Jim Kim to speak first, then followed by the U.N. Secretary-General, then President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President Koroma and then, President Alpha Conde.

So in that order, let me just welcome Jim Kim to the podium.

DR. KIM:  Thank you.  We had an outstanding meeting with very high level representation from all of the major partners in addition to bilateral, multilateral and foundations.

What was most impressive for all of us was that the three presidents not only presented national plans for recovery, but they presented regional plans.  The three of them have worked together to bring a plan that will bring the entire Mano River group back to the very, very high rates of growth that they enjoyed before the Ebola outbreak.

It was very exciting to hear pledges that totaled over $1 billion today.  The plan for recovery that they talked about would reach about $8 billion including $4 billion for regional efforts.  But the commitment in the room was palpable.

We also heard, though, that this is not over.  There were 9 cases in Sierra Leone, 28, I think, in Guinea and just this past week and so, much, much progress has been made.  We're getting things under control.  Liberia is getting close to being able to declare that they've gotten to zero.  But we cannot take our eye off the ball.  And I think that everyone in the room agreed that not only getting to zero but ensuring that these three countries recover and are even more robust and growing than before is going to be the test that the entire global community will have to pass in the coming years.  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN:  Thank you.  I'd like to thank Dr. Jim Kim, President of World Bank, for organizing this very important gathering together with the presence of three affected countries.  I'd like to highly commend the leadership and very resilient committed leadership of the three presidents of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

I am very glad that we have discussed about the recovery of these countries while we are seeing the encouraging reduction of the cases.  This is the multilateralism at its height, and World Bank and WHO and United Nations have been working very closely.  In fact, I really appreciate Dr. Kim's leadership who has been playing an instrumental role in this.

Just as we helped these countries when the outbreaks were at its height, we have to stand by with them as the outbreaks now ebbs.  That means providing essential services to these countries, health care systems, education, jobs and markets.  In July I will convene a high level pledging conference in New York to help those countries and to mobilize the resources, financial and technological resources to help their economic and social recovery. 

As you are already aware, on April 2nd I have launched a high level panel of lessons learned, chaired by President Kikwete of Tanzania.  And just based on our lessons, we should not repeat if there were any weaknesses in our addressing Ebola to avoid any such mistakes and lapse of our efforts.  I hope that this will help us and the international community to address the future any such cases may happen.

Looking forward, I count on the international community to continue to demonstrate generously and unity of purpose.  In the meantime, there is an urgent, unfinished task.  Getting these cases to zero and staying there.  I think we can make it.  We are now at the toughest stage; last one mile of our long marathon race is most difficult at the last finishing line.  Let us work together until we've reached that finishing line with great success.  Thank you very much.

MODERATOR:  So ladies and gentlemen, as we say good bye to Jim Kim and the U.N. Secretary-General, let me now call on President Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.

PRESIDENT SIRLEAF:  We are most grateful for the opportunity to join the spring meetings and today, by their presence, by their statements, the international community through the institutional leaders of this meeting demonstrated continued solidarity with the people of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone.  We go back home carrying the message from them that first of all, their own effort to contain the virus is appreciated.  That our own leadership in joining them in this effort was applauded and that we can count on the international community to be with us as we move, first of all, from containing the virus by getting to zero, ensuring that we build resilient health systems and that we can now start the process of economic recovery.

Our original approach, we believe, is the best way to get the results that we want and we were pleased that our international partners endorsed this report and endorsed what we call a Marshall Plan, which means pooling all the resources together in innovative ways to enable us not only to meet our national plans for recovery but our regional plans that have been put together by our own technicians.

So I want to thank all of you for being here and thank you for the support you've given in your media reports over the months that have kept the eye on this disease and enabled us to mobilize the support that we receive today.

MODERATOR:  Many thanks, Madam President.  President Koroma?

PRESIDENT KOROMA:  Let me start by thanking the President of the World Bank for hosting us and his continued support the World Bank has provided during this difficult moment of our history.  We must also thank members of the United Nations and their agencies and the rest of the international community for providing this support.

The meeting this morning has been a wonderful meeting.  We have made our presentation on the way forward.  We believe that a lot has been achieved but we are not yet out of the woods.  We still have to remain focused on getting to zero and staying zero until we are declared Ebola-free.

But we also know that the Ebola has come with its own diversity and consequences on our people, the economy and the countries infected.  Now, we have to move forward.  That is why we have presented a regional recovery program.  We have to address the issues of getting our economics, our economies back on their feet.  We will have to address the issues of the vulnerable people, the survivors, the orphans that have been left as a result of the Ebola.  We have to get our schools back to normalcy and address the issues of the teenage pregnancy that have been as a result of Ebola and all of these need resources.

We are happy that there has been a kind of welcome on our proposal.  We are looking forward to the implementation of a Marshall Plan which we have projected to cost $8 billion and $4 billion will be in the next two years as quick recovery activities.  But I must say that members of the media must also try to change in their narrative, I think we have made progress.  We have come a long way and we must focus on trying to ensure that we get more people to participate in the coordinative efforts that we are looking forward in providing funding for all of us to get back to normalcy.  Thank you very much.

MODERATOR:  Mr. President, many thanks indeed.  President Alpha Conde of Guinea.

PRESIDENT CONDE:  If you don't mind, I'm going to speak French.  First of all, I would like to thank Jim Kim, the President of the World Bank for having organized this meeting today and for having brought us together with Secretary-General of the United Nations, His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon. 

I'm extremely pleased to see that our three countries have agreed on a regional plan to overcome Ebola and to promote economic development.  France and the United States are giving us a lot of support and we're very grateful for all the support that we have received from the global community.

We will do our share; we will do our part in order to increase our national budget which is going to be devoted to healthcare.  And what we really would like to do is for the Mano River Basin Region to become a development pool of the West African sub-region.

I am not going to say anything more because the colleagues, Presidents of Liberia and of Sierra Leone have already said what there is to say on behalf of our three countries and I am looking forward to seeing the implementation of the Marshall Plan for our region.  Thank you very much.

MODERATOR:  Okay, I'm afraid we're going to hard stop, ladies and gentlemen, at this stage time-wise so I'm going to thank the Presidents most profusely, indeed, for their time and wish everyone a very good morning.  Thanks very much for coming.