New UN Mission Chief Takes Over

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived in Accra, Ghana, on Jan. 3 as the newly appointed Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and begins work this week as head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived in Accra, Ghana, on Jan. 3 as the newly appointed Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and begins work this week as head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), according to a UN news report. He replaces Anthony Banbury.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with UNMEER staffers at a Jan. 3 town hall meeting where he praised their achievements and discussed the challenges in battling the Ebola outbreak in west Africa. "This is a global crisis. We definitely have a difficult time ahead of us, but we can achieve it. We have no plan B, we have to get rid of this virus. This is within our reach, but we should not be complacent," he said, according to the report.

The latest World Health Organization numbers show there are 20,206 confirmed, probable, or suspected cases of Ebola and 7,905 reported deaths to date in this outbreak. "We need to keep going until we don't have even one case, because even one case is too many," Ould Cheikh Ahmed said. "The work ahead remains very hard, but we really have no other choice."

Banbury welcomed him and said, "Even while we face a lot of hard work in the days, weeks and months ahead, it's important to pause and think back to where we were when we started. There were predictions that there would be 1.4 million cases by now."

Ould Cheikh Ahmed is scheduled to visit Liberia and Sierra Leone this week and Guinea soon after, accompanied by the UN Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro. Before his new appointment, Ould Cheikh Ahmed was deputy special representative and deputy head of the UN Support Mission in Libya.

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