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China’s Ebola aid “timely”, additional help needed: WFP

Updated: Oct 20,2014 6:41 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — The Chinese government’s contribution to the Ebola emergency operation of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) was “timely”, but more financial and food assistance is needed to combat the unprecedented epidemic outbreak, a WFP official said on Oct 20.

Earlier this month, China pledged $6 million to assist 1.3 million people impacted by the Ebola virus outbreak in the three most-affected countries — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The donation made China one of the five largest donors for the WFP operation together with the World Bank, United States, UN Central Emergency Response Fund and Japan, said Brett Rierson, WFP’s Representative in China.

The contribution will be divided equally between the three countries, enabling WFP to purchase vital food supplies — mainly rice, lentils, yellow peas and blended fortified cereals-- for emergency rations for more than 300,000 people for one month, as well as specialized nutrition products to help prevent malnutrition.

The third and latest round of aid by the Chinese government to fight Ebola, was announced by President Xi Jinping on Sept. 18.

The Ebola virus is “not just a health crisis,” as it also has grave humanitarian, economic and social consequences that could spread far beyond Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, Rierson said at a press conference in Beijing.

China’s assistance came at “this very difficult time when we need to reverse Ebola’s advance,” he told reporters.

China was among the first governments to extend assistance to West Africa, including sending medical experts to Sierra Leone, he said.

In recent weeks, the food supply in affected countries has been threatened at many levels. Farmers are abandoning their crops and livestock as they seek areas they perceive as safer away from exposure to the virus.

China has responded in a timely manner since the Ebola virus outbreak and offered assistance by providing disease prevention supplies, food assistance and mobile laboratories, as well as other things, said Liu Junfeng, deputy director-general of the department of foreign assistance of China’s Ministry of Commerce.

Liu urged better communication and coordination among the governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the WFP and Chinese government to ensure food is distributed to Ebola-stricken people as soon as possible.

The WFP is very grateful for the contribution from the Chinese government to help feed the families affected by the Ebola virus, said Denise Brown, WFP Regional Director for West Africa.

“As the number of cases are growing fast, WFP is scaling up its operation and one of the biggest challenges is to ensure that we have sufficient funds to help people,” she said.

With the contribution from the Chinese government, the WFP has now received one third of about $179 million it needs for its regional emergency interventions against the Ebola outbreak through February 2015.

In addition to help from governments and international organizations, Rierson urged businesses to step up to the plate and increase their assistance to Ebola-hit nations.

“The epidemic has no borders,” said Li Ning, WFP’s Goodwill Ambassador and Chinese legendary gymnast, calling for immediate action to help those in hunger living in West Africa’s remote areas.

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