Thursday

28th May 2020

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: ec.europa.eu)

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 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Future of Europe Conference: Council urged to move now

MEPs want to launch the delayed two-year event in September, which would require a joint position of the three main EU institutions before summer. EU commissioner Maroš Šefčovič is optimistic about reaching an EU Council's position under the Croatian presidency.

Feature

Children? Only if state permits it, says Romanian mayor

The mayor of the Romanian city of Targu Mures has said that the state should screen would-be parents for proof of a stable workplace, financial resources, basic education and the legal minimum age required to care for children.

News in Brief

  1. EU Commission updates working programme for 2020
  2. EU Commission proposes €750bn recovery fund
  3. EU and Japan in favour of WHO reform
  4. Former top diplomat Mogherini takes over EU college
  5. Denmark partly reopens borders to love
  6. France unveils €8bn 'electric' rescue for car industry
  7. Frontex set for Serbia and Montenegro launches
  8. US military: Russia sent jets to Libya to help mercenaries

Polish 'LGBTI-free zones' not OK, says EU commission

The European Commissioner for equality Helena Dalli has said the distribution of 'LGBTI-free zones' stickers or the adoption of anti-LGBTI resolutions cannot be allowed. Some 86 towns in Poland have so far declared themselves 'LGBTI-free zones'.

Feature

Paradox: Nordics' privileged youth feel miserable

Young people in the Nordic countries are among the most privileged in the world - yet many of them feel miserable. The Nordic Council is concerned and aims to find out why.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Mix of loans and grants in Commission €750bn package
  2. EU recovery agreement deal may need 'personal' summit
  3. Little love, as Berlin bids 'auf Wiedersehen' to Trumpism
  4. Future of Europe Conference: Council urged to move now
  5. Lobbyist register to be tightened after Monsanto case
  6. Hawks to doves? Germany's new generation of economists
  7. Is Russia manipulating food supplies during pandemic?
  8. How Kaczyński ruined Poland, judges tell MEPs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us