Ebola-hit countries seek billions for recovery at UN

The presidents of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone come to the United Nations today hoping to raise USD 3.2 billion to put their countries firmly on course for recovery from Ebola.

United Nations: The presidents of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone come to the United Nations today hoping to raise USD 3.2 billion to put their countries firmly on course for recovery from Ebola.

More than 11,200 people have died in West Africa from the world's worst outbreak of the virus, with a few new cases uncovered in Liberia last month after the country had been declared Ebola-free.

New infections in Sierra Leone and Guinea have fallen dramatically amid indications that the epidemic is largely under control.

At the UN conference chaired by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the leaders will present their recovery plans for the next two years and seek international pledges of financial aid.

"It's all in an effort to get the countries to receive the resources they need to go to zero, stay at zero and recover," said David Nabarro, the UN's coordinator for the Ebola crisis.

Zimbabwe's 91-year-old President Robert Mugabe will attend as chair of the African Union along with Guinea's leader Alpha Conde, Liberia's Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone.

Liberia, the hardest-hit country, and Sierra Leone have seen modest gains made after years of war wiped out during the epidemic that brought their countries to the brink.

Legions of health care workers died from Ebola and field hospitals built at the height of the crisis have since closed, leaving health systems struggling.

The World Health Organization has said the three countries are facing a funding gap of USD 700 million just to rebuild their health systems and provide services until December 2017.

The three countries will be seeking USD 3.2 billion to "cover the most essential needs" for their health and education systems and the economy, said Sunil Saigal, an Ebola coordinator for the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

A separate regional plan requiring USD 4 billion will be presented at the conference.

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