Pledges to UN fund to fight Ebola more than double to $50 mln

 Pledges to a United Nations trust fund calling for nearly $1 billion to fight Ebola in West Africa have more than doubled to almost $50 million, days after it was disclosed that only one $100,000 donation had been deposited.

Reuters| Last Updated: Oct 22, 2014, 01:53 AM IST

United Nations: Pledges to a United Nations trust fund calling for nearly $1 billion to fight Ebola in West Africa have more than doubled to almost $50 million, days after it was disclosed that only one $100,000 donation had been deposited.

The United Nations said in September that $988 million would be needed to try to halt the spread of the deadly virus over the next six months. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in West Africa have been hardest hit by Ebola, but cases have also been reported in Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the United States.

Donors can contribute directly to UN agencies such as the World Health Organization and aid groups working in West Africa or to the trust fund created by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to allow for rapid, flexible funding of urgent needs.

By Oct. 16, donors had committed $365 million, but nearly all of that money was directed to UN agencies and aid groups. Only $100,000 from Colombia was deposited in the trust fund, which has received pledges totaling $19 million from Chile, Australia, Estonia, India and Romania.

According to the trust fund website on Tuesday, Australia has deposited $8.7 million and Venezuela has committed $5 million. New non-binding pledges have also been received from Finland, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea and Kazakhstan, taking the total promised money to nearly $35 million.

"Much more is needed," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday. "The Secretary-General urges all countries that have contributed to consider what more they can do, and those who have yet to contribute to do so as a matter of urgency."

The trust fund aims to raise at least $100 million by the end of October, according to its website.

More than 4,500 people have died in the worst Ebola outbreak on record, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

The United Nations has established a special mission, known as UNMEER, in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to coordinate efforts to contain Ebola.

"The only way to end the Ebola crisis is to end the epidemic at its source. The people and governments of West Africa are demonstrating significant resilience. The world has a duty to provide assistance for which they have asked," Dujarric said.

The United Nations Financial Tracking Service showed on Tuesday that more than $410 million had been committed to Ebola response efforts, while another $225 million in non-binding pledges had been made. These figures include payments and pledges to the U.N. trust fund. 

Dujarric said Ban established the fund "to provide a flexible, accountable, strategic and transparent platform to finance critical unfunded priorities and help reduce the rate of Ebola transmission."

"Ebola is a major global problem that demands a massive and immediate global response. Needs include trained medical personnel, mobile laboratories, vehicles, helicopters, protective equipment, and medevac capacities," he said.