Ebola outbreak: David Cameron pledges another £80m to spur EU donations

“It’s very important we take action at source in West Africa,” he said

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The Independent Online

David Cameron last night pledged another £80m in funding for the fight against Ebola, hoping to shame other European Union nations into doing more to stem the spread of a virus which he called the biggest health emergency facing the world right now.

So far, EU nations have pledged around €640m (£505m), with some governments also sending expert teams, troops, medical equipment and other supplies. They have also agreed to co-ordinate the monitoring of potential cases in Europe, but the focus yesterday was on assistance on the ground.

“It’s very important we take action at source in West Africa,” Mr Cameron said at an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, adding that Britain has already donated over £125m. “We need other European countries to do more.”

The new pledge will take Britain’s total contribution up to £205m, a large share of the total donated by the EU to the crisis. A British government source said they hoped the Prime Minister’s announcement at dinner last night would spur more contributions from other leaders.

“His approach will be to say we really need to be clear about the risk here, this is the biggest global public health emergency we face,” the official said ahead of the dinner. “Unless we do more to tackle the virus there, it poses a greater risk to us here.... This isn’t just a humanitarian and health issue, this could have an impact on economy and other things.”

 

The European Commission head, José Manuel Barroso, also announced an extra €24.4m in funding to go towards research for a vaccine, but there is still a fair way to go before the 28 EU member states reach the €1bn that Mr Cameron has been pushing for.

The British source said that the furniture store Ikea had pledged more money to fighting Ebola than 18 EU nations: “It needs a bit more of a push from leaders here at this summit.” 

EU leaders were also last night expected to name a co-ordinator to deal exclusively with the bloc’s response to the Ebola crisis, and to discuss further expert deployments to West Africa.

Keiji Fukuda, the WHO assistant director-general, said yesterday it remained “terrifically difficult” to get both domestic and international health workers to the worst-affected nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The US, meanwhile, has enhanced its screening of people entering the country from those West African nations. They will now only be able to fly into five airports equipped to deal with the screening, and will be monitored for three weeks after their arrival.

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