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G20 leaders must announce and deliver on concrete actions to stop Ebola

15th November 2014, 15:20:33 UTC

Leaders of the G20 states gathering this week-end in Australia must act immediately to ensure all the personnel, equipment and funding required to halt the Ebola outbreak are made available without any discrimination, a number of leading international non-governmental organisations said today.

Amnesty International, Oxfam International, Plan International, Save the Children and WaterAid are collectively present in all the three affected countries with a clear analysis of the tremendous needs still to be addressed.

These five international non-governmental organisations have launched a petition to the world’s 20 largest economies, to take concrete actions to win the fight against the Ebola disease.

Within a couple of weeks, 165,490 people around the world signed the petition to express solidarity with communities affected by the Ebola outbreak and remind the G20 leaders that the window to stop the outbreak from spiralling out of control is closing fast.

“G20 leaders must remember that in the context of a health emergency, such as the Ebola crisis, states have a legally binding obligation under international human rights law to provide assistance if they are in a position to do so,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

“The national and global response needs to scale up rapidly, and do so in a way that respects, protects and fulfils all human rights of patients, health workers and the community at large.’’

Ahead of the summit, Amnesty International, Oxfam International, Plan International, Save the Children and WaterAid have organized several campaigns, public events and meetings across all regions of the world including in Australia, Japan, Spain, the US and the UK.

“The Ebola epidemic has reminded us of the fragility of health systems in most West African states and the need for improved sanitation clean water and good hygiene behaviours to be promoted in national policies and development plans,” says Mariame Dem, WaterAid’s Head of West Africa Region.

“The international community needs to intensify efforts and external interventions must consider community led solutions that are sustainable. All these must be linked to a long term strategy that ensures that our health systems include behaviour change programmes that strengthen prevention strategies.”

Since the Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013 and then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, a growing number of cases have been reported with more than 5,000 dead in West Africa, making children vulnerable.

“The spread of the Ebola virus is affecting everyone. However, children are especially vulnerable as they witness disruption, death, panic and even stigmatisation. It is important that all Ebola strategies include child friendly responses, with the protection and well-being of children being paramount,” reaffirms Damien Queally, Plan’s Deputy Regional Director with overall responsibility for Plan’s Ebola response.

A huge wave of international solidarity must get under way for the benefit of affected countries.

“Some countries are punching far above their weight, as demonstrated by Cuba’s quick deployment of healthcare workers, and Nigeria’s recent pledge to send 600 of their own”, says Natasha Quist, Regional Director for Save the Children.

“Thousands of children have already lost parents and loved ones, and the wider social, healthcare, and economic repercussions have been devastating. With new cases being confirmed in Mali, the international community must also bolster regional efforts to spread awareness and stop the outbreak in its tracks. Today, the battle is far from over and each of the G20 countries –not just a handful- must do their part.”

“The window of opportunity to bring the spread of Ebola under control is closing fast. The G20 is in prime position to provide the leadership and resources desperately needed. Hiding behind the generosity of others is unacceptable if we are to tackle the immediate emergency and ensure the long-term recovery of the region,” said Vincent Koch, Oxfam’s Ebola Operational Response Lead.