Office of the Spokesperson
February 27, 2015
The U.S.-Liberia relationship dates back nearly 200 years and is stronger than ever as we continue working together to get to zero Ebola cases. Liberia, under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has emerged from over a decade of war to be a key champion of democracy, peace, and development. The U.S. is Liberia’s leading partner, having invested over $1 billion in bilateral assistance since 2003.
Ebola Emergency Response
As the President announced on February 11, together with Liberian partners and communities – we have bent the curve of the epidemic and placed it on a much improved trajectory. We have gone from over 1,000 new suspected, probable, and confirmed Ebola cases a week in October, to just a handful of new cases per week in Liberia. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/02/11/fact-sheet-progress-our-ebola-response-home-and-abroad
Ebola Recovery and Development Investments
The United States is committed to working with Liberians to rebuild and recover from the devastating impact of the Ebola epidemic on their livelihoods, health, and families. We are ensuring that the new capabilities drawn from the response efforts, including laboratory systems, surveillance, and health care workers trained in infection prevention and control, remain and bolster the Liberian capacity to implement the Global Health Security Agenda to prevent, detect, and respond to future threats. We are prioritizing investments to restore and expand health services to address declines in maternal and child health, declines in immunization rates, and increases in malaria. We are investing in the economic recovery and development of Liberia.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has made major efforts to identify eligible U.S. investors willing to invest in Liberia in the aftermath of the civil war. The agency provided long-term loans and risk insurance to realize those investments and has been able to build a portfolio of loans that now includes a school, a small and medium enterprise loan company, and housing. In the wake of the Ebola outbreak, OPIC is working with portfolio investors in Liberia to weather the crisis as the Liberian economy recovers from the Ebola epidemic. This fall, the President and Chief Executive Officer of OPIC will lead a delegation to West Africa and will include a stop in Liberia. The visit will lay the ground work for future OPIC involvement and help introduce investors to potential opportunities in Liberia.
On February 25, the Liberian Government and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) signed a $2.8 million initial grant agreement to provide technical assistance and analysis for the development and implementation of an energy-focused compact. A future compact would be aimed at providing more reliable and affordable electricity to stimulate private sector-led growth and development.
The Export-Import Bank of the United States has helped facilitate mutually-beneficial trade for Liberia and the United States. Thanks to $3.7 million in financing support from Ex-Im Bank, 10,000 metric tons of American wheat was exported to Liberia, with private sector partners on the transaction.
The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) recently announced a $3 million, three-year, Post-Ebola Food Security Initiative. USADF will concentrate on building local capacity to meet food security requirements. Complementing the work of USAID’s Feed the Future program and the work of other U.S. agencies, USADF will focus on the counties in Liberia hardest hit by Ebola directly funding local producers, coupled with technical support provided by local service providers.
In 2013, Liberia was selected as one of the initial six focus countries under President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative. Under our partnership with the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, Liberia’s Rural and Renewable Energy Agency, and the World Bank, our goal is to increase energy service to as many as 800,000 Liberian households and businesses over the next five years.
Peace Corps will soon send back an initial group of volunteers, who were evacuated last year on account of the Ebola epidemic. The volunteers will serve as English, math, and science teachers in Liberia’s secondary schools.
Mentoring Liberian Security Forces
DOD has helped build the capacity of the Armed Forces of Liberia with a consistent presence of expert advisors as part of Operation Onward Liberty. We are increasing the number of embedded advisors to 45 personnel as part of our Ebola transition to fully resume the joint training engagements that the epidemic disrupted.
The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) program in Liberia provides training, mentoring, and technical assistance to key actors in the justice system, including prosecutors, public defenders, and court reporters and clerks with the goal of strengthening the justice system in the country and building the administrative and fiscal capacity of the Ministry of Justice.
The INL program in Liberia is working with the Liberian National Police (LNP), both in concert with the UN Police (UNPOL) and through its bilateral program, to build capacity and enhance accountability. INL has had success establishing the Emergency Response Unit and the Police Support Unit and continues to heavily engage with senior leadership and professional standards and finance divisions.
INL works with the Liberian Drug Enforcement Agency to increase its capacity to disrupt drug trafficking and reduce drug demand. Our technical training and assistance has resulted in the first drug law for Liberia as well as deployment to all of Liberia’s sea and airports.
Since 2005, the U.S. government has invested over $108 million toward the development of the Justice Sector and LNP. Including the Armed Forces of Liberia, the U.S. has invested over $411 million in Security Sector Assistance to Liberia.
The United States currently contributes 9 uniformed personnel in support of the UN Mission in Liberia’s (UNMIL) efforts to support the Government of Liberia to solidify peace and stability.
DOD has also provided support to the Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research and the associated National Reference Laboratory, and has supported the development and professionalization of the Armed Forces of Liberia, including in engineering and other support to the Ebola response.
Investing in Reconciliation and Conflict Prevention
Under the State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI), the Global Women Peace and Security Initiative has invested over $750,000 since 2013 in small grants to fund projects that advance the outcomes and actions committed to under the Protection from Violence and Conflict Prevention pillars of the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.
An ongoing project seeks to increase the ability of rural Liberian women to influence security policymaking by facilitating dialogue between women and security institutions. These efforts will build safer communities by empowering women in Liberia’s border counties to become actively involved in community security discussions and by strengthening local mechanisms to protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence.
Since 2012, S/GWI has also invested over $2 million in the Women’s Health Innovation Program, which provides evidence-based pregnancy and parenting materials to at-risk Liberian women and their families and coordinates health, education and community development systems, in an effort to improve maternal and child health and literacy.
Working across nearly all of Liberia’s 15 counties, USAID helps communities create economic opportunities to reintegrate internally displaced persons, ex-combatants and others affected by the war.