The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting this week to discuss the Ebola outbreak that has gripped West Africa and claimed over 2,200 lives, the president of the 15-member body has said. The outbreak, affecting Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, is unprecedented in scope with more than 4,000 cases having been reported across the region and over 2,200 deaths.
It has also dealt a major blow to the fragile healthcare systems in West Africa.
“The trend lines in this crisis are grave and without immediate international action we are facing the potential for a public health crisis that could claim lives on a scale far greater than current estimates and set the countries of West Africa back a generation,” Ambassador Samantha Power of the United States, which holds the Council’s presidency for September, told reporters. The meeting – requested by the US owing to the “increasingly grim situation” particularly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – is expected to hear from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as from senior UN officials dealing with the Ebola crisis.
“At this moment, it is crucial that Council members discuss the status of the epidemic, confer on a coordinated international response and begin the process of marshalling our collective resources to stop the spread of the disease,” Ms. Power said.
“This is a perilous crisis but one that we can contain if the international community comes together to meet it head on,” she said. “This outbreak is controllable; Ebola is treatable; and victims can survive. Anything short of our full collective commitment could have grave and destabilising public health, humanitarian, economic, and security consequences which could reach far beyond the borders of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea,” Ms. Power said.