UNITED NATION

UNITED NATIONS Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has officially established the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response and has instructed the advance teams for the first-of-its-kind operation to head to its base in Accra, Ghana, by Monday.

Following the unanimous adoption on Friday of a key resolution by the 193-Member UN General Assembly, and after Thursday’s historic meeting of the Security Council, which declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a threat to peace and security, Ban announced that he has now established the UN emegerncy response mission, to be known as Unmeer.

The Mission’s initial roll-out is a major step in the UN’s expanding effort to tackle what World Health Organization chief Dr. Margaret Chan has declared to likely be ‘the greatest peacetime challenge that the United Nations and its agencies have ever faced.’ In a statement issued by his spokesperson, the Secretary-General explains that the Mission will provide the operational framework and unity of purpose to ensure the rapid, effective and coherent action necessary to stop the outbreak, to treat the infected, to ensure essential services, to preserve stability and to prevent the spread to countries currently unaffected.

‘I have issued instructions that Unmeer advance teams deploy to the mission headquarters in Ghana, and to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, by Monday, 22 September 2014,’ said the statement, referring to the three countries hardest hit by the unprecedented outbreak of the virus, which has infected some 5,000 people and killed more than 2,500 others, according to WHO.

Ban says in his statement that UN System Senior Coordinator for Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, will provide strategic guidance to the Mission. The Secretary-General meanwhile plans to appoint a Special Representative to head UNMEER and accelerate support to the countries and people most affected by the Ebola crisis.

‘The Mission will rely on the support of the entire UN system, in particular the critical technical expertise of the World Health Organization (WHO), and will work closely with Member States, regional organizations, civil society and the private sector,’ the statement concluded.

Nearly six months after the first case of Ebola in West Africa was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and the Security Council have approved resolutions creating the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) to contain the ongoing outbreak which has sickened more than 5,500 people and killed over 2,500.

“This is not just a public health crisis. This is a social crisis, a humanitarian crisis, an economic crisis and a threat to national security well beyond the outbreak zones,” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, to the UN Security Council on Thursday. “For these reasons, Mr Secretary-General and I are calling for a UN-wide initiative that draws together all the assets of all relevant UN agencies."

This is the first time in history that the UN has created a mission for a public health emergency. The Mission will bring together the vast resources of the UN agencies, funds and programmes, to reinforce WHO’s technical expertise and experience in disease outbreaks.

While WHO plays a central role in leading the public health efforts for this response, the support of other UN agencies is essential to deal with the social, economic, development and security challenges that are affecting these countries and the region.

“This unprecedented outbreak requires an unprecedented response,” said Dr David Nabarro, the UN Secretary General’s Senior Coordinator for the Ebola Response. “The number of cases have doubled in these countries in the last three weeks.

To get in front off this, the response must be increased 20-fold from where it is today.”

The Mission will immediately begin to pull together the assets from the relevant agencies. The hub of the Mission will be located in Accra, Ghana. It will bring together the collective assets of the UN and work closely with the Governments in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.