UN will deploy Ebola mission

Calling the Ebola outbreak a 'threat to international peace and security,' the United Nations announced the deployment of a military hospital to southeastern Guinea, where the Ebola outbreak was first detected. 

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a "threat to international peace and security" as the death toll hit 2,630 and France became the latest Western nation to step up its support.

French President Francois Hollande announced the deployment of a military hospital to the remote Forest Region of southeastern Guinea, where the outbreak was first detected in March.

Since then the virus has infected at least 5,357 people, according to World Health Organization (WHO), mostly in Guinea, neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia. It has also spread to Senegal and Nigeria.

With fragile West African healthcare systems overrun by the outbreak, Hollande said France's response would not be limited to contributing to 150 million euros ($194 million) in aid promised by European Union nations.

"We must save lives," Hollande told a news conference. "I have asked the defense minister to coordinate this action and to include military doctors and the civil protection agency plus air support."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday he will create a special mission to combat the disease and deployed staff in the worst-affected states.

"The gravity and scale of the situation now require a level of international action unprecedented for a health emergency," Ban said. He added that he will appoint a special envoy to head the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, which will push a "rapid and massive mobilization" of people, material and financial resources.

"This international mission ... will have five priorities: stopping the outbreak, treating the infected, ensuring essential services, preserving stability and preventing further outbreaks," Ban told an emergency session of the Security Council.

SPEED IS OF ESSENCE

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said a surge of support could help turn things around for the roughly 22 million people in the hardest-hit countries, whose lives and societies have been shattered by the disease.

"In the hardest hit countries, an exponentially rising caseload threatens to push governments to the brink of state failure," Chan said during the session of the 15-member council.

The Security Council also adopted a resolution that also calls on states "to lift general travel and border restrictions, imposed as a result of the Ebola outbreak and that contribute to the further isolation of the affected countries and undermine their efforts to respond."

Joanne Liu, international president for medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres called on member states and others to follow the lead of countries that have committed to join the fight against Ebola.

"We need concrete action on the ground now. Speed is of the essence," Liu said.

"Although dangerously late, the pledges such as those of the U.S. and UK are ambitious, but they must be implemented now. We do not have months or even weeks to wait. Thousands of lives are at stake," she said, adding that other countries must commit to deploying assets and staff as soon as possible.

U.S. President Barack Obama, calling the disease a threat to global security, promised this week the deployment of 3,000 U.S. troops to help contain the epidemic. Britain also announced on Wednesday it would provide a further 700 treatment beds in Sierra Leone, its former colony.

One of the most deadly diseases, there is no known cure for the hemorrhagic fever, though development of several treatments and vaccines is being fast-tracked.

ATTACK ON JOURNALISTS, OFFICIALS

The WHO warned on Thursday there were no signs yet of the outbreak slowing, particularly in the three countries hardest hit. It said a surge in Liberia was being driven by an increase in the number of cases in the capital, Monrovia, where 1,210 bed spaces were urgently needed - five times the current capacity.

A U.S. C-17 military aircraft landed in Monrovia international airport on Thursday with a team of engineers to assess the capacity of the runway to handle large planes.

The U.S. plan will include the construction in Liberia - the country hit hardest by the outbreak - of 17 Ebolatreatment centers with 100 beds each, plus training thousands of healthcare workers.

French forces will be based in an area where authorities are battling fears and stigma about the highly contagious disease.

Highlighting these difficulties, eight bodies, including those of three journalists, were found after an attack on a team trying to educate locals on the risks of the Ebola virus in a remote area of southeastern Guinea, a government spokesman said.

"The eight bodies were found in the village latrine. Three of them had their throats slit," Damantang Albert Camara told Reuters by telephone in Conakry on Thursday.

In a rare piece of good news, the latest data showed no new deaths in Sierra Leone in the one day since the previous update.

The government in Sierra Leone has locked down the country, limiting movements for three days from midnight on Thursday. It said extreme measures are needed to contain the outbreak.

"Avoid touching each other, avoid eating bush meat, avoid visiting the sick, avoid attending funerals, report illnesses and deaths to the nearest health facility," President Ernest Bai Koroma said in an address to the nation ahead of the start of the lockdown.

"We know some of the things we are asking you to do are difficult. But life is better than these difficulties," he said.

However, many people fear the decision will bring more hardship to a nation that is already one of the poorest on earth and critics also question whether it will even be effective. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to UN will deploy Ebola mission
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0918/UN-will-deploy-Ebola-mission
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe