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Högnivåkonferens om ebola 3 mars – From Emergency to Recovery

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European Commission High-level international conference on Ebola 3 mars 2015
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Mr Chairman, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

I want to start by expressing my deepest condolences to the victims of Ebola, their families and all the affected countries. My admiration is truly profound for the people and governments who continue to courageously fight this outbreak. The struggle is not over until the last victim of Ebola has been found and cared for, and we must all make a decisive contribution to reach the very end of that road.

Sweden is one of the countries that has contributed the most per capita in financial terms, and is still active in the efforts to finally end this Ebola outbreak, through health workers and experts on the ground.

Less than two weeks ago I visited Liberia and Sierra Leone, and my strong impression – that I know I share with many of you – is that Ebola is not primarily a medical problem. People have not died primarily because of Ebola. Too often they have died because of a lack of confidence in the authorities, because of weak institutions and because of a lack of education.

As we now discuss investing in a more resilient health system and economic recovery, we need to remember that when Ebola hit, it exposed and exacerbated country-specific challenges. More than ten years of peace and economic development was reversed in just a few months. We must ask ourselves why? Was it only because of a lack of health institutions? Was it because of a lack of economic investments? I believe this crisis actually presents a unique opportunity to really analyse how we can support the affected countries to truly strengthen their resilience against future shocks. How can we create an enabling environment for sustainable economic growth, how can we address the root causes of the fragility of the affected countries and not just continue with ‘business as usual’?

Since the beginning of this year, I have been co-chairing the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, together with the Minister of Finance of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Kaifala Marah. A conclusion from my recent trip to Liberia and Sierra Leone, where I met Mr Marah, is that I believe the New Deal principles put forward and agreed by the G7+ countries can be better used to guide the recovery.

- Politics need to be more inclusive.
- Security and justice must be put high on the agenda.
- Institutions must become better at delivering the services people ask for and need.
- Reconciliation and trust need to be key concepts.

Governance should include all groups of society. The role of women must be strengthened and integrated in all processes. The private sector must be involved, and civil society – including traditional leaders, who have been key actors in combating Ebola – should continue to play an important role.

This is to say that peacebuilding and statebuilding essentially have to be an integrated part of the post Ebola-strategy.

Sweden has been committed to supporting Liberia in its peace- and statebuilding efforts for a long time. It is now three years since Liberia and Sweden became partners to pilot the New Deal (together with the United States) in Liberia, and since Sweden started chairing the UN Peacebuilding Commission’s Liberia configuration.

In Liberia, peacebuilding priorities based on the New Deal principles should be emphasised – such as support for justice and security sectors, the reconciliation process and strengthening institutional capacity. Not least in view of the UNMIL Transition Plan, and preparations for the 2017 elections. The PBC will continue to provide an important platform for international coordination and for developing coherent strategy, linking development, security and political aspects, including the post-Ebola recovery.

For Liberia to come out of this stronger and more resilient to future shocks, we need to invest, not only in hospitals and infrastructure, but also in the people and the government, to build a sustainable future for all. Sweden will continue to stand by Liberia and we want to do it the right way – together.

Finally, I would like to commend the organisers of this important conference and champion the unfailing efforts of all those involved in fighting the Ebola outbreak. Not the least those brave men and women who have been – and are still – on the frontline every day fighting the virus. They are our true heroes. For them and the people of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, not least the children, we need to make our very best efforts to support the affected countries in their pursuit to heal, build and strengthen their societies. In Brussels today, I hope that we have taken a first step on that journey together.

Thank you.