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UNITED NATIONS, September 19. /ITAR-TASS/. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday announced the establishment of a special mission to fight the epidemic of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) and its future outbreaks.
Speaking at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, Ban said the mission would start working before the end of the month.
“This unprecedented situation requires unprecedented steps to save lives and safeguard peace security,” he said.
“Therefore, I have decided to establish a UN emergency health mission, combining the World Health Organisation’s strategic perspective with a very strong logistics and operational capability.”
This international mission, to be known as the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, or UNMEER, will have five priorities: stopping the outbreak, treating the infected, ensuring essential services, preserving stability and preventing further outbreaks.
The Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa is the biggest peacetime challenge the United Nations has ever faced, World Health Organisation (WHO) Secretary-General Margaret Chan said.
“WHO has successfully managed many big outbreaks in recent years. But this Ebola event is different. Very different. This is likely the greatest peacetime challenge that the United Nations and its agencies have ever faced,” she said addressing the U.N. Security Council.
“None of us experienced in containing outbreaks has ever seen, in our lifetimes, an emergency on this scale, with this degree of suffering, and with this magnitude of cascading consequences,” Chan said.
She said it was not just an outbreak or a public health crisis, but “a social crisis, a humanitarian crisis, an economic crisis, and a threat to national security well beyond the outbreak zones”.
Chan noted the contribution to the efforts to contain the spread of the disease made by Great Britain, China, Cuba, the United States and other countries.
“This 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, shattered by one of the most horrific diseases on this planet,” she said.
According to WHO, more than 2,600 people have died from Ebola in West Africa and over 5,000 have been infected. Most of the deaths occurred in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
On August 8, WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.