Ebola Regional Response Plan January-December 2015, Supplementary Appeal 2015
The outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa is unprecedented in its scale, severity, and complexity. More than 23,200 people have been infected by 15 February 2015, resulting in over 9,300 deaths. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are still affected by this outbreak, and are struggling to control the epidemic against a backdrop of extreme poverty, weak health systems and social customs that make breaking human-to-human transmission difficult.
For UNHCR, the Ebola epidemic came at a time when the voluntary return of Ivorian refugees from Liberia and Guinea to Côte d’Ivoire was gaining momentum. Return efforts came to a standstill with the declaration of the outbreak at the national, and later international, levels. Instead, UNHCR shifted its priority to ensuring that refugees are integrated into national EVD response plans.
During 2014, UNHCR successfully incorporated refugee populations under the national plans in all three affected countries. UNHCR also implemented prevention and preparedness measures in refugee camps. These measures, in place since March 2014, have proven to be effective to date, and refugee camps in Guinea and Liberia have remained Ebola-free, despite the heightened risk of importation from affected surrounding host communities. Nonetheless, national plans face gaps and resource constraints responding effectively in areas hosting refugees. Outside of camps, seven locally-integrated refugees in Sierra Leone and seven urban refugees in Liberia have fallen victim to the disease.
From the onset, UNHCR’s interventions have been within the overall UN response plan: initially in line with the WHO’s roadmap, and under the UNMEER coordination mechanism since September 2014. UNHCR’s regional Ebola preparedness and response plan is aligned with the UN System Response Strategy (STEPP) and the WHO roadmap and links to the national response mechanisms. In 2015, UNHCR will continue to focus on the three countries directly affected by EVD (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) while simultaneously working on preparedness in the surrounding 11 countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo). UNHCR’s key objectives in these 14 countries are to ensure the preservation of protection space for refugees, asylum-seekers and other populations of concern, and that these populations are included in national response and preparedness plans. The safety of UNHCR staff, implementing partners’ medical staff and community mobilization staff remains of the utmost importance.
The funding requested in this supplementary appeal will enable UNHCR to enhance preventive, preparedness and response measures against EVD, participate in the regional and country inter-agency response and ensure continuity of operations, including preparations for the resumption of the voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees, in the face of the Ebola crisis.