IFRC Secretary General: Let’s walk the extra mile to zero cases of Ebola while preparing for recovery

Published: 3 March 2015

Brussels/Geneva, 3 March 2015 – Speaking at a high level conference on Ebola in Brussels, the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy, urges the international community to maintain its strong momentum for the response.

“The Ebola outbreak is not over and complacency, both at local and global levels would be one of our worst enemies,” says Mr Sy. “Complacency would lead to unnecessary deaths and preventable tragedies.”

The latest figures show that transmission continues to spread in certain areas of the affected countries, particularly in Sierra Leone. It is especially worrisome that cases continue to arise from unknown chains of transmission, making control extremely difficult.

“We cannot simply treat our way out of this outbreak,” says Mr Sy. “Now is the time for vigilance and continued engagement with communities, educating people about how they can protect themselves against Ebola, monitoring and tracing contacts of patients, treating the sick, and fighting stigma and discrimination. This is how we can get to zero cases of Ebola, and this is where the Red Cross Red Crescent can make a real difference.”

Red Cross volunteers were in the affected communities before the outbreak began, and they will be there in the months and years to come. Some of them continue to face acts of violence by communities which are expressing their misunderstanding and fears through blame and attacks.

“We need to ensure that our volunteers are able to do their work safely,” says Mr Sy. “We must support them as they continue to build trust with communities if we are going to stop Ebola. We will always be on the side of communities to heal, reconcile, protect, contain the outbreak, and recover.”

Mr Sy stresses that, although it is time to begin thinking about the long-term recovery process, we must not forget the response is not yet over.

“We cannot speak about recovery without continuing to maintain a high level of response capacity in West Africa,” says Mr Sy.

The high level conference has been jointly organized by the European Union, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, and the United Nations.The aim is to take stock of the current fight against Ebola, coordinate further action for the total eradication of the disease, and discuss the recovery process in the three most affected countries.

IFRC has launched six emergency appeals aiming to assist 39 million people affected by Ebola. To date, 4.2 million people have been reached with social mobilization and beneficiary communication activities, 14,132 bodies have been safely buried, and 909 people have been admitted to Red Cross Ebola treatment centres. Additionally, more than 175,000 people have been reached with psychosocial support activities, and 51,092 contacts have been traced and monitored.

For more information on Red Cross Red Crescent Ebola response activities, visit www.ifrc.org/ebola-crisis.

For interviews, images or more information on the Red Cross Red Crescent Ebola response, contact:

In Geneva:

  • Nicole Robicheau, Global Ebola Communications Coordinator, IFRC

Mobile: +41 79 124 41 26 E-mail: nicole.robicheau@ifrc.org

  • Benoit Carpentier, Team Leader, Public Communications, IFRC

Mobile: +41 792 132 413 E-mail: benoit.carpentier@ifrc.org

In Brussels :

  • Eva Oyón, Communications Officer, Red Cross EU Office

Mobile: +32 4844 366 84, E-mail: eva.oyon@redcross.eu

In Accra:

  • Katherine Mueller, Communications Manager, IFRC Africa

Mobile: +251 930 03 3413 E-mail: katherine.mueller@ifrc.org