UN to set up Ebola crisis mission

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations is planning to set up a new mission to combat the Ebola outbreak, the UN chief said on Thursday, September 18.

A special representative will be appointed soon by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to lead the mission, which is to be the focal point for the international response to the epidemic.

"The single strategic objective and purpose of the mission will be to work with others to stop the Ebola outbreak," Ban said in a letter to the UN Security Council.

The move came amid ongoing criticism from aid groups of the world response to the outbreak that has left more than 2,600 dead and over 5,000 others severely ill, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The United Nations created an agency to address the AIDS pandemic, UNAIDS, but this marks the first time that a special mission is to be set up with the mandate to address a public health emergency.

The United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) will have its headquarters in the region, but not in the three most affected nations where country offices will be opened.

Ban also announced plans to set up a trust fund to mobilize contributions and other resources in the UN-led fight against the deadly virus.

The United Nations has said nearly $1 billion would be needed to beat back the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola, which is on track to infect 20,000 people by the end of the year.

The Security Council is due to open an emergency session later Thursday to adopt a resolution describing the outbreak as a threat to international peace and stability.

The resolution would call on countries to provide field hospitals and other urgent aid to West Africa.

It would also call on nations to lift travel and border restrictions imposed as a result of the outbreak while asking airlines and shipping companies to maintain their links with affected countries.

The world body has set a goal of stopping the spread of Ebola within 6 to 9 months, but the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has called the response so far as "lethally inadequate." – Rappler.com