Advance team of UN mission for Ebola response arrives in West Africa

These children in Kailahun district, Sierra Leone, survived Ebola but lost parents to the deadly virus. Photo: UNICEF/Jo Dunlop

22 September 2014 – Laying the groundwork for the effective and coherent action necessary to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has sickened more than 5,800 people and killed some 2,800, an advance team of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response arrived today in Accra, Ghana to set up the operation’s headquarters.

Another advance team of the Organization’s first ever mission dealing with a public health crisis, to be known as UNMEER, also arrived in Liberia, one of the countries, along with Guinea and Sierra Leone, which has been hardest hit by the unprecedented outbreak.

UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric also announced today that the world body has established the Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund to ensure a coherent UN system contribution to the overall response.

The Fund seeks contributions from Member States, regional legislative bodies, inter-governmental or nongovernmental organizations, businesses and individuals. Donors can also choose to channel their contributions directly to UN agencies.

Meanwhile, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), in its lates Ebola update issued Monday afternoon, said 5,843 cases and 2,803 deaths have been reported in the current outbreak by the Ministries of Health of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“Exposure of health-care workers continues to be an alarming feature of this outbreak,” WHO reported.

Two countries, Nigeria and Senegal, have reported a case or cases imported from a country with widespread and intense transmission. In Nigeria, there have been 20 cases and eight deaths. In Senegal, there has been one case, but as yet there have been no deaths.

In Geneva, an Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization on the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa wrapped up its second meeting and “strongly reiterated” that there should be no general ban on international travel or trade.

“Where extraordinary supplemental measures such as quarantine are considered necessary in States with intense and widespread transmission, States should ensure that they are proportionate and evidence-based, and that accurate information, essential services and commodities, including food and water, are provided to the affected populations,” WHO said in a press release.

Flight cancellations and other travel restrictions continue to isolate affected countries resulting in detrimental economic consequences, and hinder relief and response efforts, according to the Committee.

Nearly 6 months after the first case of Ebola in west Africa was reported to WHO, UN General Assembly and the Security Council endorsed last week the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response to contain the ongoing outbreak.

The mission will provide the operational framework and unity of purpose to ensure the rapid, effective and coherent action necessary to stop the outbreak, to treat the infected, to ensure essential services, to preserve stability and to prevent the spread to countries currently unaffected.

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