UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania as new special representative and head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response(UNMEER) on Thursday. In his role as Special Representative, Ahmed will work closely with the Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, and with the governments in the region and other partners.
Ahmed will succeed Anthony Banbury, an American, in January to lead the Ghana-based UN Ebola mission which was established in September to coordinate efforts to combat the world’s worst outbreak of the virus, Xinhua reported citing the statement. Meanwhile, the Secretary General has expressed his gratitude to Mr. Banbury for his vision and leadership of UNMEER, and for his commitment to fighting this outbreak.
Banbury, who was appointed as chief of the first-ever UN health emergency response mission in September, will return to New York in early January 2015, according to the statement. No reason has been noted for the replacement.
The Ebola outbreak this year has killed 6,533 people in the three West African countries hardest hit by the disease — Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea — and infected 18,118 people, the World Health Organization said in its latest update on Thursday.
Amid, Nabarro said that having returned from the region last week, he was inspired by the progress made in Ebola response efforts compared to September. The response differs from urban areas to rural areas, but the trend seems to be that if communities are fully involved there is likely to be a reduction in number of cases.
Ahmed is currently deputy special representative of the UN chief and deputy head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya(UNSMIL), United Nations resident coordinator, humanitarian coordinator and United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) resident representative.
He also served as resident coordinator, humanitarian coordinator and UNDP resident representative in Syria(2008-2012) and Yemen (2012-2014).
Meanwhile, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said, While the priority is to stop the Ebola outbreak, measures must also ensure that the emergency response is linked to longer-term efforts to strengthen health systems in those countries hit the hardest. (IANS)