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For UN's Ebola Mission, Acting Chief Tells ICP of Air Transport, Training, Speed

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, September 18 -- At the Ebola meeting of the UN Security Council where UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the establishment of a UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), many were confused about what the mission will do, who will pay for it, and how it came about.

  Inner City Press spoke with the UN's Ebola Operation Crisis Manager Tony Banbury who explained that the new mission moved from idea on Sunday, September 14 to announcement four days later. A two-page concept paper was prepared, which Ban Ki-moon approved.

  The ideas range from providing training through the World Health Organization to all who will go in to help, to mobilizing transportation for equipment. The General Assembly will be asked for funds, and countries will be asked what they can contribute.

  Banbury indicated the speed with which this is moving is unprecedented, exactly what's needed and what the UN should be doing.

  Inner City Press asked Banbury, as it had at the day's UN noon briefing, about Sierra Leone's three day shut-in to try to stop the spread of ebola. Banbury said it is not really a shut-in but an attempt to reach out and educate people on what is necessary to not spread Ebola.

  Banbury said helicopters will be needed in Sierra Leone and Guinea but not in Liberia, to which the US is committing 3,000 troops. He specifically praised Cuba for sending doctors. A long time official of the UN's Department of Field Support, he said moves have begun to transfer unused and underused UN Peacekeeping equipment from other missions over to West Africa.

  Upon further inquiry elsewhere, it was suggested that it might not be easy to convince Sudan to allow “Western” aircraft into Darfur to pick up under-used vehicles for transfer to the Ebola mission in Western Africa. But that might be a test, both for Sudan and for the UN. We'll have more on this.


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