16th Nov 2019

EU anti-Ebola funds not reaching aid workers, Red Cross says

  • The European commission has handed out €65.8 million, from a total of €373 million pledged, to fight Ebola. (Photo:

Ebola is flaring up as aid agencies struggle to keep staff on the ground, while EU pledges and donations have yet to appear.

The stark message was delivered to reporters in Brussels on Monday (17 November) by the head of operations for the International Federation of the Red Cross, Birte Hald.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

“It is a massive disease, the spread of Ebola is out of control, and we need massive resources in order to combat this,” she said.

Hald, who is based in Guinea’s capital Conakry, said active outbreaks are still taking place in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and is now gaining pace in Mali.

“Transmission is not over and it is absolutely premature to start being optimistic,” she noted.

The European Commission on Monday announced an additional €29 million in aid, bringing its total anti-Ebola funds to €373 million.

Of that sum, the commission has handed out €65.8 million.

With EU member states forking out millions more, the total EU pledge is now over €1 billion on top of equipment and supplies.

But the Red Cross says most of it has yet to materialise on the ground.

“When you are talking about €1 billion from the EU, I think this is still a little bit abstract,” Hald said.

She noted that the Red Cross itself has seen only €2 million of the EU’s €1 billion so far, but is expecting another €5 million after applying for a grant from the European Commission.

The commission, for its part, has so far dispersed around €19 million for humanitarian purposes and another €46.8 million to, for instance, prop up weak health care systems in the affected countries.

An EU source could not cite how much of the money from member states has been allocated, noting that the reporting system “is not completely reliable”.

Lack of staff

Another senior Red Cross official, Antoine Petibon, said the problem is being compounded by the fact some 60 percent of all its qualified volunteers have resigned.

Workers from other charities, such as Medecins Sans Frontieres, are also being put under pressure by family and friends not to go.

One Red Cross worker from Chad returned home from Guinea for a two-week break but was placed in quarantine by airport authorities in N'Djamena and was unable to see his family.

Similar other stories have complicated a relief effort that is being undermined in part by stigmatisation and discrimination, said Red Cross’s director of Africa zone, Alasan Senghore.

“If they [health workers] are discriminated against, we won’t see the end of Ebola,” he noted.

Last week, Morocco announced it would no longer host the Africa 2015 Cup of Nations football tournament because of the disease.

The virus has already killed over 5,000 people.

Another 14,000 have been affected, with a mortality rate hovering between 60 to 90 percent depending on treatment conditions and quality of healthcare.

Cases going up

“Case numbers have been going up in Sierra Leone, some regions unfortunately dramatically,” Christos Stylianides, EU co-ordinator on Ebola, also told MEPs in the development committee on Monday.

Stylianides said the case increase is linked to the lack of medical infrastructure in the country.

Stylianides, who had returned from a four-day tour of the three worst affected countries, said more medical personnel are urgently needed.

"This is clearly an area where, we collectively, can make a real difference," he said.

West African leaders call for post-Ebola support

The leaders of the three West African countries worst hit by the Ebola epidemic called on the international community for a regional ‘Marshall Plan’ at an EU-hosted conference on Tuesday.

NGO reveals German firms fail to meet UN human rights rule

A new report reveals that the biggest companies in Germany fail to manage measures to protect their employees and supply-chain from human rights abuses - ahead of the government deadline for introducing tough new regulation.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan politicians extradition hearing postponed
  2. Germany: EU banking union deal possible in December
  3. EIB: no more funding of fossil-fuel projects
  4. UK defence chief: Russia could trigger World War III
  5. Hungary's Varhelyi will face more questions
  6. Police put former Berlusconi MEP Comi under house arrest
  7. MEPs criticise Poland for criminalising sex education
  8. UK will not name new commissioner before election


FIFA's schools programme aims to reach 700m children

Football clubs today invest huge sums of money in youth development and court talented young players from an early age. Children are the future – not only where football is concerned, but also for society in general.


A fundamental contradiction in EU drug policy

The knock-on affects from a 'war on drugs' in Europe is creating problems in Albania - and as far afield as Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. Key moments for new commission This WEEK
  2. EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner
  3. Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room
  4. Green MEPs unconvinced by Romanian commissioner
  5. EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors
  6. Hungary's commissioner-to-be grilled over loyalty to Orban
  7. Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act
  8. Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us