NOVEMBER 14, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi
European Union Ebola Coordinator and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, yesterday announced in Freetown that a Dutch ship carrying more than 100 vehicles and ambulances, and equipped mobile hospitals is expected to berth at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay in Freetown on 24 November, as part of EU assistance in the fight against the deadly Ebola disease.
Mr. Stylianides, head of an EU multidisciplinary delegation comprising officials from the Humanitarian and the Health Directorates, and members of European cabinets to assess the situation and demonstrate European solidarity with those affected by the disease and health workers on the ground, was speaking at the Radisson Blu hotel..
“A Dutch ship is on its way to the region with more European aid on board. That ship carried more than 100 vehicles and ambulances, equipped mobile hospitals, laboratories and specialized health equipment provided by nine Member States and UNICEF. It is scheduled to arrive in Freetown by 24 November,” Mr. Stylianides disclosed. “This is the single biggest transport operation organized under the Union Civil Protection Mechanism to date.”
The EU is also supporting humanitarian air services to operate in the region, to avoid isolating countries worst affected by the outbreak.
“In the long term, we need to be ready to respond to the challenges; we are really concerned by reports suggesting that the Ebola cases are on the rise again in some parts of the country.
“We are fully supportive of the efforts of the government of Sierra Leone to bring an end to the epidemic. The contribution of member states and of other international partners is considerable and admirable,” the EU Ebola Coordinator and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management said.
He added: “Since we arrived in Freetown, we have seen the devastating impact that Ebola has had on the people of Sierra Leone. On the socio-economic as well as on the institutional structures. It has teared apart the essence of a community of open-hearted people. Let me pay tribute to the victims of the disease, the best way to do justice to them is to act now to prevent more victims,” he noted.
The European Union and Member States have been at the forefront of international efforts to provide emergency response to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, offering key capabilities, such as expert staff, Ebola capable mobile laboratories, treatment centres, both air and sea transport and medical research, as part of the EU’s Comprehensive Response. The European Union Civil Protection Mechanism has been activated and is channelling in kind support from Member States. To date the European Union and its Member States have pledged assistance amounting to overall EUR 1,050 million.
Christos Stylianides said the delegation held meetings with key stakeholders, including the Minister of Finance, acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Health and Sanitation, Chief Executive Officer of the National Ebola Response Centre, ambassadors of EU Member States, development partners and NGOs involved in the Ebola response, among others.