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Ebola outbreak ‘running’ ahead of world’s response: UN official

Terming the spread of the Ebola virus an ‘unprecedented situation’, a top UN official said that despite best efforts, the outbreak is ‘running’ ahead of the world’s response to curtail it and funding for the international response is also lagging.

“Despite best efforts, the (Ebola) virus is running faster than the international community,” World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director Denise Brown said, adding concerted efforts to get the virus under control had not succeeded.

“(The virus) is way ahead of us”, she said.

Calling it an unprecedented situation, Brown urged the international community to take exceptional measures to collectively get in front of the virus and to stop it.

The head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Anthony Banbury, is in Sierra Leone on the second leg of his visit to the most affected countries, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters here yesterday.

Banbury is in West Africa to jumpstart UNMEER’s work.

After arriving at the mission’s headquarters in Accra, Ghana, earlier this week, he spent the past two days assessing the situation in Liberia.

Regarding the funding of the response, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that 26%, or just $ 256 million, of the total $ 988 million needed, has been received.

An additional $ 163 million has been pledged to activities in the plan that covers immediate humanitarian support to the region, particularly Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has so far committed $ 13.4 million to support food and health operations as well as the regional humanitarian air service.

WFP is delivering food, planes, helicopters, ships, and flying in aid workers but the virus is spreading exponentially, and the response must increase accordingly.

The agency is building two treatment centres in Monrovia which should be ready by the end of October with 400 beds. But several other components must align, the world body said.

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