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UN calls for a twenty-fold increase in resources to address Ebola

Andrew Burton

Calling for a twenty-fold increase in resources for Ebola and the establishment of a UN Emergency Health mission, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sounded the loudest possible alarm over the epidemic today.

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss Ebola, only the second disease that has warranted a gathering by the council after HIV/AIDS.

The group unanimously passed a resolution asking countries around the world to urgently send medical workers and supplies to stop the epidemic.

"It's a call to action not just from the Security Council but from the whole United Nations family," said Ambassador Samantha Power of the United States. The resolution was drafted by the US and was co-sponsored by 131 countries — the most of any council resolution ever.

In his remarks at the session, the secretary general noted that the number of Ebola cases is doubling every three weeks and that the virus is a threat to international peace and security. "There will soon be more cases in Liberia alone than in the four-decade history of the disease."

He spoke about how the disease is "destroying health systems" and making it impossible for health-care workers to address other more common ailments that affect people.

"The virus is also taking an economic toll. Inflation and food prices are rising. Transport and social services are being disrupted. The situation is especially tragic given the remarkable strides that Liberia and Sierra Leone have made in putting conflict behind them," he said.

So what can the resolution do?


"Much of the resolution is a generalized call for greater international solidarity and international contributions to the fight against Ebola," a UN news service reported.

"But it also contains some specific provisions that could accelerate the international community's response to the crisis." For example, the resolution asks countries to lift travel restrictions that have been put in place in the countries most affected by the virus. These have made getting aid workers and supplies into the region a challenge. Since the resolution was supported by countries that have put those restrictions in place, that suggests they'll resume flights following the meeting.

The UN also announced that it will launch a mission specifically focused on Ebola. "This unprecedented situation requires unprecedented steps to save lives and safeguard peace security," Ki-moon said. "Therefore, I have decided to establish a UN emergency health mission, combining the World Health Organization's strategic perspective with a very strong logistics and operational capability."

What can the resolution do? Much of the resolution is a generalized call for greater international solidarity and international contributions to the fight against ebola. But it also contains some specific provisions that could accelerate the international community’s response to the crisis. In particular, the resolution calls on countries to lift travel restrictions to and from affected countries. This has been an ongoing problem for the United Nations and NGOs.  Airlines have cancelled flights, and countries in the region have prevented the use of their airports to deliver personnel and assistance to affected countries.

These restrictions have significantly hindered the ability of international health workers, NGOs and the UN to do its job–and also made the delivery of supplies and personnel more expensive. Key countries in the region, including important travel hubs like Senegal, Cameroon, South Africa and Kenya, have banned travel to and from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.  In some cases, countries won’t even let UN planes land to refuel.

- See more at: http://www.undispatch.com/ebola-turning-point/#sthash.ijjrf1oL.dpuf

What can the resolution do? Much of the resolution is a generalized call for greater international solidarity and international contributions to the fight against ebola. But it also contains some specific provisions that could accelerate the international community’s response to the crisis. In particular, the resolution calls on countries to lift travel restrictions to and from affected countries. This has been an ongoing problem for the United Nations and NGOs.  Airlines have cancelled flights, and countries in the region have prevented the use of their airports to deliver personnel and assistance to affected countries.

These restrictions have significantly hindered the ability of international health workers, NGOs and the UN to do its job–and also made the delivery of supplies and personnel more expensive. Key countries in the region, including important travel hubs like Senegal, Cameroon, South Africa and Kenya, have banned travel to and from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.  In some cases, countries won’t even let UN planes land to refuel.

- See more at: http://www.undispatch.com/ebola-turning-point/#sthash.ijjrf1oL.dpuf

Earlier this week, the UN asked for almost $1 billion over the next six months to address the Ebola epidemic.