18 September 2014 - Security Council - Ebola - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Resolution 2177 (2014), which we have just adopted, describes the Ebola epidemic as a threat to international peace and security. This is the first time in history that the Security Council has defined a health crisis in that manner.
On the one hand, the epidemic represents an international threat due to its unprecedented scale; several thousand people have already died, with the possibly of tens or even hundreds of thousands more deaths in future. West Africa has suffered dramatically, but we know that the epidemic could spread far beyond the region. Moreover, as a threat to peace and security the health crisis has become an economic and social crisis that could also generate a political crisis. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are all on the path towards peace after years of bloodshed. The Ebola virus is threatening to erase the peace dividends and to reignite chaos in those countries.
This is an emergency. It is our obligation to halt the outbreak before it spreads out of control. Our collective responsibility is focused on three priorities: to act, to coordinate and to prevent. With regard to our action, the President of the Republic has made combating Ebola a priority. France stands side by side with African countries in that fight. By unanimously adopting the unprecedented resolution 2177 (2014), the Security Council calls on all relevant stakeholders, in particular States, to provide resources to combat the epidemic.
Since the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic, France has taken the lead in supporting the actions of the World Health Organization (WHO) and non-governmental organizations in the affected countries. The French laboratory experts of the National Institute of Health and Medical Research and the Pasteur Institute identified the presence of the virus in April and were the first to be present on the ground in Guinea. Their experts are today helping to diagnose and monitor the disease and to train doctors. Today, the assistance of France in combating Ebola amounts to more than €60 million, that is, more than $90 million, through various relevant channels.
Bilaterally, France will provide a total of €35 million, that is, $45 million, to the affected countries and their neighbours. The greater part of that assistance, that is, more than €20 million or $26 million, will be provided to Guinea. It will take a number of forms. We have started to deploy 25 medical specialists on the ground to help to strengthen health-care facilities, in particular the Donka hospital in Conakry.
In Conakry, we have funded the establishment of a centre of expertise by the Pasteur Institute. In Guinée forestière, we are financing the setting up of a treatment centre and strengthening the entire health-care system. In addition, the President of the Republic has just announced that, within the next few days, a military hospital will be set up in Guinée forestière, the epicentre of the epidemic. The hospital will be provided with military doctors and civilian protection, as well as air resources.
On cooperation, we will not be able to contain the epidemic without closely coordinating the resources provided by all actors. At the European level, on France’s initiative, the European Union will very soon have a mechanism for coordinating medical evacuations for European nationals and the international teams on the ground. The European Union will also allocate more than €150 million, that is, nearly $200 million, to the affected countries, in particular to support their health-care services, to establish mobile laboratories and to train health personnel. France will provide a significant part of that assistance. At the level of the United Nations, we are working in close cooperation with the WHO and Dr. David Nabarro, Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola, by focusing our efforts on Guinea, as he has requested. We will provide our full support, including personnel, to the United Nations Operations and Crisis Centre, based in New York.
Regarding prevention, in the resolution that we have adopted the Security Council sends a strong and clear message that Ebola is not a divine scourge against which humankind is powerless. We can contain Ebola if the simple and strict health and protection guidelines are implemented. Beyond that, we will find a lasting solution only by helping the affected countries to strengthen their health systems. As we know, those countries that are already most vulnerable have been struck.
The courage of the health personnel of the affected countries and the international health workers who are fighting against the epidemic on the ground commands our admiration. I would like to commend, in particular, the dedication of the Médecins Sans Frontières teams, to which the Security Council pays tribute in the resolution. For months, those teams have been working at the epicentre of the outbreak. We need to live up to the courage of those men and women.
Mr. Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Peace laureate, who devoted his life to saving the lives of others, described our moral duty as follows:
“Everyone in his own environment must strive to practice true humanity towards others. The future of the world depends on it.
”Today, we call on the humanity of all. Men, women and children are suffering from and dying of Ebola. For them, let us act now.