Ebola crisis: Kofi Annan is 'bitterly disappointed' at international response to Ebola

Former U.N. secretary general says the international community did not move fast enough

Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations, has said he is “bitterly disappointed” with international community’s response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

Speaking on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said he points “the finger of blame” at the international governments that have had the capacity to aid those in crisis.

“I think the international community could have offered and organised ourselves in a much better way to offer the assistance, we didn’t need to take months to do what we are doing today,” he said.

 

The World Health Organisation said on Thursday it expects there to be 9,000 confirmed cases of Ebola by the end of the week, and more than 4,500 deaths. The number of cases of Ebola are currently doubling every four weeks.

Mr Annan said there is “enough blame to go around” however, adding that African governments in the effected countries also “could have done more” to abate the spread of the virus.

He claimed that had the Ebola outbreak happened in another region of the world, it would have been handled “very differently”.

“When you look at the evolution of the crisis, the international community really woke up when the disease got to America and Europe, and yet we should have known that in his interconnected world, it was only a matter of time,” he said.  

Mr Annan defended the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has been criticised for not responding the crisis in West Africa quicker, claiming that the body was “very much aware of the risk and danger” but that it relies on governments for its resources.

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Kofi Annan on the BBC's Newsnight

“We live in a world where there are so many humanitarian demands, and [the WHO] are not always able to prioritise as effectively as they should.

“We took our eyes off the ball,” he admitted.

The diplomat said his greatest fear now is that if the countries in crisis do not get the right levels of assistance needed to combat the deadly virus, “many more people will die,” and that the economies of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia will be negatively impacted.

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