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UN calls on Chinese businesses to help fight Ebola

Updated: 2014-10-24 07:27
By Pu Zhendong (China Daily Africa)

UN calls on Chinese businesses to help fight Ebola

China is donating $6 million to the three mosted-affected countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Provided to China Daily

The United Nations has called Beijing's contributions to the global fight against the Ebola epidemic "generous and timely" and has urged more Chinese enterprises and billionaires to offer financial and food assistance.

Brett Rierson, the World Food Program's representative in China, said on Oct 20 that the Chinese government's pledge of $6 million will be divided equally among the three most-affected countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The donation will pay for a month's supply of food, mainly rice, lentils and yellow peas for more than 300,000 people, Rierson said.

The donation made China one of the five largest donors to the WFP operation, together with the World Bank, the United States, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund and Japan. Thus far, the WFP has received one-third of the $179 million it says it needs for regional emergency interventions against the unprecedented epidemic.

Liu Junfeng, deputy director-general of the Department of Aid to Foreign Countries at the Ministry of Commerce, has urged the international community to provide food aid and medical supplies to Ebola-ravaged countries.

"In many African countries, the eruption of the disease has affected every link on the food production chain, from growing crops to sales. Food supplies to quarantined patients and to the general public have been fraught with serious problems," he says.

China has provided disease prevention supplies, food assistance and mobile laboratories since Ebola erupted in February and has since killed more than 4,500 people of the 9,000 infected.

Describing Ebola as "not just a health crisis", Rierson said the virus also has grave humanitarian, economic and social consequences that could spread far beyond Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

"Farmers are abandoning their crops and livestock as they seek areas perceived as safer from exposure to the virus. Travel restrictions and displacements have led to increased food prices in affected countries," he said. "WFP has been heavily involved in the fight to avoid the epidemic turning into a crisis of food and nutrition."

While Rierson expressed his gratitude to the Chinese government, he also urged the Chinese business community to come to the aid of Ebola-affected nations.

"Where are the Chinese billionaires and their potential impact? Because this is the time that they could really have a huge impact," he says. "You can ask the same thing of the corporate sector, being the largest investors in West Africa right now."

Guinea's Ambassador to China, Ibrahima Sory Sow, says, "The lack of health facilities and necessary protection for medical workers partly account for the epidemic, but most importantly there is not enough public awareness of preventive measures against the virus."

Kumba Momoh, Sierra Leone's deputy chief of mission to China, says eradication of the epidemic relies on more international support to build treatment centers, provide food assistance and train local doctors.

"Ebola is the disease that has no boundary, race or gender. As a true friend of Africa, China has always been at the forefront of this fight," Momoh says.

Dudley Thomas, Liberia's ambassador to China, says it will be difficult to assess the economic, social and cultural impact in a post-Ebola future.

"There is a need for even stronger response from Liberia's international partners to help us identify and establish benchmarks for both emergency transition and recovery," Thomas says.


(China Daily Africa Weekly 10/24/2014 page8)

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