US will not close borders to West Africa

Ebola 1

The United States (US) says it would not close its borders to West Africa despite the widespread nature of the deadly Ebola viral disease in the sub-region.

The death toll from Ebola has reached nearly 4,500, according to the World Health Organization

Deputy Co-ordinator for Ebola Response in the US Department of State, Mr Donald Lu said
on Tuesday, that it is essential that all borders across the globe remain opened, commercial flights should continue, and all ports remain accessible.

?Once countries start to close their borders, their air space, prevent the landing of flights that have come from West Africa, means we are going to have tremendous challenges in responding to this crisis.?

Addressing a teleconference on the US response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, Mr Lu noted that the US relief efforts depend on the ability to fly in relief supplies and personnel, freely.

?The international community has not done enough and needs to move quicker,? he said.

Mr Lu expressed worry that only 35 countries, out of more than 190 in the world had pledged support of $690 million, and millions more in material and personnel.

According to him the World Bank has committed $400 million, while the IMF has advanced $130 million in zero per cent loans while the African Development Bank has also pledged $150 million.

Though private sector donors including the Gates Foundation and the Paul Allen Foundation has made significant pledges?, Mr Lu said however that ?all of this is dwarfed by the enormous need on the ground?.

The UN alone, through its agencies, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and the World Food Programme (WFP), has identified an unmet need of an additional one billion dollars.

?We have seen real progress in the last few weeks in terms of the international response on Ebola, but with these enormous needs, more has to be done,? he said.

The USAID Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, Ms Nancy Lindborg said the US is fully mobilising and pooling the capabilities across the country to fight the virus.

According to her, the US is supporting all the affected countries, adding: ?We are also working very closely with the United Kingdom, France, and the European Union as they step up their efforts. We are sharing operational plans and strategies to ensure that we have a coherent effort?.

The US, she said, is also working with 12 countries in West Africa towards their Ebola-preparedness.

The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) Deputy Commander for Military Operations, Lieutenant General Steven Hummer, said a safe, stable, and secure Africa is in all of ?our nations? enduring interests, and the key to our global security and prosperity?.

He said: ?Ebola is not just a regional threat, but a potential global threat?.
AFRICOM, he said, is ?standing up for a Joint Forces Command – United Assistance, Headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia to provide regional co-ordination of US military support to the US government and international relief efforts.

?We are also establishing a regional intermediate staging base to facilitate and expedite the transportation of equipment, supplies and personnel from Dakar, Senegal.

?We will also establish a training site which will be able to train up to 500 healthcare support providers per week, enabling healthcare workers to safely provide direct medical care to patients, ? he said.

He said the US is not only developing Monrovia as its deployment headquarters but also its logistic site.

He said so far, 3,000 US personnel are in Monrovia to help fight the Ebola disease and called on the international community to step-up efforts at helping to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.


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