Monday, 22 September 2014

Red Cross calls for additional funding to increase its response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

With cases of the Ebola virus disease continuing to surface at unprecedented speed in West Africa, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is expanding its emergency operations in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to reach millions more people through increased activities. The IFRC has revised its three emergency appeals for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to a total of 30.2 million Swiss francs, an increase of 24 million Swiss francs.

 The aim is to now reach a total of 21.9 million people, more than double the number of beneficiaries originally targeted. “With dozens of new cases emerging daily, this outbreak is showing no signs of slowing down,” said Alasan Senghore, IFRC Director, Africa. 

“Affected communities are relying on us. People are dying. If we are serious about stopping Ebola, we cannot afford to delay ramping up our response. But to do that, we need additional resources, and we cannot do it alone. We must all work together to achieve this ambitious goal.”

“Education is key to halting this outbreak,” said Birte Hald, IFRC regional head of emergency operations based in Guinea.

“These revised emergency appeals will focus on communication, education, awareness raising, and social mobilization. We will expand the area of our operations to include new districts and counties, and ramp up our activities through the training of more volunteers.”

In Sierra Leone, the revised emergency appeal also covers a new 60-bed Ebola treatment centre in Kenema district, one of the worst affected districts. An extraordinary allocation of the IFRC's disaster relief emergency fund (DREF) of one million Swiss francs, also allowed for the deployment of an emergency response unit to Kenema to facilitate the start-up of the treatment centre.

Since the outbreak was first declared in Guinea in March and throughout its spread to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone, thousands of Red Cross volunteers have been trained and deployed to support the response in all three countries. Their roles include body management, contact tracing, psychosocial support, sensitization and surveillance. These activities will be scaled up under the revised emergency appeals, and more than 5,600 volunteers will be trained to ensure larger geographical areas can be reached.

“Communities have an opportunity here to assist in determining their own fate,” added Senghore. “Engaging communities through our trained volunteers will have an immediate and large pay off, as messages of prevention will be shared by community members themselves, the people who have the most interest in ensuring this outbreak is stopped.”

Following an Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, the IFRC has also launched an emergency appeal of 1.6 million Swiss francs to support the Nigerian Red Cross Society in assisting 5 million people over the next nine months. To date, there have been 17 confirmed Ebola cases in Nigeria and 6 confirmed deaths.


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