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In Liberia UN Ebola mission chief commends progress warns against complacency

Briefing journalists at Spryggs Airport in Monrovia, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed described his first impression of the situation on the ground as “mixed.” On the one hand, he begins his post with “a lot of optimism,” but on the other hand, he recognizes mounting challenges to end Ebola.“We are not yet there. There is certainly still a lot to be done for Liberia to be claimed free [of Ebola],” he said, expressing concern that successes and optimism may provoke a “degree of complacency.”During his visit, the new UNMEER head met with the President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Minister of Health, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and the UN system which remains “quite active” on the ground. Joined by UN Special Envoy on Ebola David Nabarro, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed visited a treatment centre, as well as Grand Cape Mount, which has seen a recent flare-up of cases.“My visit to the treatment centre has confirmed that we still have in certain places figures which for us are too high,” said Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed, as he stressed the need to “stay alert” and keep up the same degree of mobilization from the Government and international community.In the hard-hit West African region, some 8,220 have died from the Ebola outbreak, according to the latest figures from the UN World Health Organization (WHO).Ebola response is and should be a “Government-driven battle” as it is “about their people, about the fate of their country,” UNMEER’s chief told reporters. Recognizing the role of countries is crucial as is supporting the grassroots efforts of stricken communities.“If we do not tackle this at the community level, there will be no zero-Ebola achievement. The community leaders, religious leaders and the communities themselves must not only acknowledge the existence of Ebola but also the battle it will take to win that behavioural change against a very limited amount of time.”He said that so far he has seen when he met survivors and leaders is that there is strong resolve there which must be “sustained and maintained.”The last “C” of his “3C approach”, which he hopes to be leading, is coordination. “There are a lot of actors coming to this, many with very good intentions. But we are too many and sometimes when there are too many cooks in the kitchen it is very difficult to get the meal out. We have to coordinate ourselves, we have to organize better,” he stressed.At the same time, he said a lot is also owed to the Liberians themselves, “their determination, their will and their strength.”“The Liberians have made this their battle. The people I have met with are at the community level are leaders of the communities or religious leaders, imams, church leaders. All of them have extraordinary resolve.”Welcoming Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed to his new post, Dr. Nabarro said that this is his sixth time in West Africa since starting work as UN System Coordinator on Ebola in August. Progress has been achieved by the people and Government of Liberia, communities, first responders, doctors, nurses and other health workers. And the people who have recovered from Ebola are “now the real Ambassadors.”“The numbers do tell an important story. In the middle of September the epidemiology said that there were about 80 new cases per day of Ebola in this country. It fluctuated and perhaps some days were worse than others. But just at the moment the figure is certainly less than five per day and possibly lower,” Dr. Nabarro explained.The next phase is to start to look at where the virus is, find the people who are not well and support them, trace their contacts and get a much deeper understanding of the outbreak.“This next stage is pretty difficult because the only solution for all of us is [to ensure] that Ebola is not present in humans in this region, as quickly as possible. So we really have to work together to find everybody. And there are flare-ups occurring such as in Grand Cape Mount…so we have to stay super vigilant.”Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who succeeds UNMEER’s inaugural chief, Anthony Banbury, is headed to Sierra Leone tomorrow and Guinea next week. Tomorrow morning UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will brief the General Assembly on his recent West Africa trip. read more

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Russian super quiet submarines feared to be in British waters

A new breed of “super-quiet” Russian submarines are feared to be operating unseen in British territorial waters, according to military sources. The new Russian Kilo-Class submarines are feared to be threatening UK security by tracking Britain’s fleet in the North Atlantic undetected or by tapping into under-sea internet cables.HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, and the nation’s nuclear deterrent submarines could be vulnerable to the Russian boats’ stealth technology, extended combat range and ability to strike targets above and below the water as well as on land. “The new First Sea Lord needs to deliver the underwater battle,” a senior military source told the Telegraph. “We must be better at what we do.”“The Russians are benefiting from a huge increase in research and development spending 15 to 20 years ago which is now producing this new class of super-quiet Kilo Submarines.”   Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) speaks with Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Nikolai Yevmenov (R) during the military parade marking the Navy Day in St.Petersburg, Russia. July 28, 2019.  The threat is said to mirror the storyline of the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October, when the newest and most advanced Russian nuclear submarine is feared to be targeting America.Armed with 18 torpedoes, sea mines and cruise missiles designated SS-N-27 Sizzler by Nato, the Varshavyanka-class submarines are thought to be able to work in concert with Russian deep-water survey ships to tap undersea cables and eavesdrop on telecommunication systems. The warning comes as Admiral Tony Radakin, the new head of the Royal Navy has said he wants “less stifling process” to transform the fleet.In his first public statement as head of the navy, Adm Radakin said: “We’re going to invest even more in the North Atlantic to maintain the freedom of manoeuvre of the nuclear deterrent.“I also think we need to do more to respond to a changing world where there is more competition [and] greater risk of state-on-state conflict,” he wrote in Navy News.A recently retired officer told The Telegraph: “The new First Sea Lord has got to his current position through a combination of intellect, ability to innovate and charm. He will now need to bring all of these to bear quickly and in the context of a rapidly changing political environment. “If not, the change he mentions will be just more change for the sake of it, rather than what is required.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Known as Project 636.3 or Varshavyanka-class in Russia, six of the advanced submarines have already been launched with the first of a second batch of six due to be operational in the Russian Navy by the end of the year. Designated ‘Improved Kilo-Class’ by Nato, at least one of the low-noise and highly manoeuvrable boats is thought to have tested how easily it could be detected by traversing close to European coastlines in recent months. Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) speaks with Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Nikolai Yevmenov (R) during the military parade marking the Navy Day in St.Petersburg, Russia. July 28, 2019. Credit:DMITRY LOVETSKY/EPA-EFE/REX/REX read more