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Document selected : B8-0115/2014

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OJ 18/09/2014 - 43

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to wind up the debate on the statements by the Council and the Commission

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on the EU’s response to the Ebola outbreak (2014/2842(RSP))

Ignazio Corrao, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Valentinas Mazuronis on behalf of the EFDD Group

B8‑0115/2014 European Parliament resolution on the EUs response to the Ebola outbreak (2014/2842(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report,

–       having regard to the report ‘A Life of Dignity for All’ presented by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 25 September 2013, and to the outcome document adopted by UN member states in which world leaders renewed their commitment to meeting the MDG targets,

–       having regard to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s Ebola risk assessment of 27 August 2014,

–       having regard to the African Union (AU) mission ‘African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa’ (ASEOWA), established on 21 August 2014,

–       having regard to the roadmap released on 28 August 2014 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for a scaled-up response to the Ebola outbreak,

–       having regard to the United Nations Special Briefing on Ebola by Dr Joanne Liu, international president of Médecins Sans Frontiéres, of 2 September 2014,

–       having regard to the UN meeting of senior leaders held in Washington on 3 September 2014,

–       having regard to the outcome of the AU Partner Group’s meeting on Ebola held in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) on 8 September 2014,

–       having regard to the communication by Commissioners Kristalina Georgieva and Andris Piebalgs on EU support for the African Union mission to fight Ebola of 8 September 2014,

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.     whereas the outbreak of the Ebola virus began in Guinea in December 2013, but was not detected until March 2014, after which it spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal;

B.     whereas West Africa remains the region most heavily affected;

C.     whereas the situation is continuing to deteriorate rapidly and risks affecting the economy as well as public order in the countries concerned;

D.     whereas the Ebola outbreak is also generating secondary humanitarian needs, relating inter alia to food, clean water and sanitation;

E.     whereas there is strong evidence that Ebola can be prevented by means of a minimum of precautions and information given to people that could reduce new infections; whereas, even though the Ebola virus is highly contagious, it is not airborne and transmission requires close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, as can occur during healthcare procedures, home care, or traditional burial practices involving close contact of family members and friends with bodies;

F.     whereas on 5 September 2014 the WHO and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) reported a total of 3 967 suspected cases and 2 105 deaths;

G.     whereas the number of people being infected by EBOLA virus continues to grow every day;

H.     whereas the WHO recognises that the outbreak had been underestimated and estimates that the number of patients could exceed 20 000 over the next 3 months;

I.      whereas affected countries have encountered numerous difficulties in their attempts to control the spread of the Ebola epidemic;

J.      whereas many of the areas that have been infected are areas of extreme poverty without even running water or soap to help control the spread of disease;

K.     whereas some hospitals lack basic supplies and are understaffed, which has increased the likelihood of staff catching the virus themselves;

L.     whereas 10 % of the dead have been healthcare workers, and the WHO reports that losing so many health workers is making it difficult to recruit foreign medical staff in sufficient numbers;

M.    whereas in West Africa cases and deaths continue to surge, riots are breaking out, isolation centres are overwhelmed, front-line health workers are becoming infected and are dying in shocking numbers while others have fled in fear leaving people without care for even the most common illnesses, and entire health systems have crumbled;

N.     whereas Ebola treatment centres have been reduced to places where people go to die alone and little more than palliative care is offered; whereas it is impossible to keep up with the sheer numbers of infected people pouring into facilities, and in Sierra Leone infectious bodies are rotting in the streets;

O.     whereas apart from the loss of life, the Ebola outbreak is having a number of negative economic impacts;

P.     whereas markets and shops are closing owing to travel restrictions, the existence of a cordon sanitaire, or fear of human contact, leading to loss of income for producers and traders;

Q.     whereas movements of people away from affected areas have disturbed agricultural activities;

R.     whereas numerous airlines have experienced reduced traffic and some have suspended flights to the region;

S.     whereas foreign mining companies have withdrawn non-essential personnel, deferred new investment, and cut back operations;

T.     whereas the outbreak is straining the finances of governments, with Sierra Leone using treasury bills to fund the fight against the virus;

U.     whereas the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that the outbreak could endanger harvests and food security in West Africa;

V.     whereas the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department has pledged more than EUR 147 million in humanitarian and development aid in order to contain the spread of the virus, provide treatment and essential equipment to infected persons and deploy humanitarian experts;

W.    whereas only EUR 11.9 million out of the EUR 147 million pledged specifically address some of the most urgent humanitarian needs;

1.      Welcomes and commends the work being done by all the NGOs involved, and in particular that of Médecins sans Frontières, the largest NGO working in the affected areas, as well as that of Emergency, Samaritan’s Purse and others;

2.      Welcomes the declaration by UN’s senior leadership on Ebola made in Washington, DC on 3 September 2014, which states that it is possible to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 6 to 9 months’ time, but only if a ‘massive’ global response is implemented;

3.      Regrets the underestimation of the crisis by the Member States and the delay in providing any adequate coordinated strategy;

4.      Supports the Commission’s initiative of providing funds of EUR 5 million to the newly established mission of the African Union (AU), ‘Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa’ (ASEOWA), which will join the ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the disease in the region, as announced at the AU Partner Group’s meeting on Ebola held in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia);

5.      Calls on the Commission to put in place control systems to ensure that the entire budget allocated to stopping the Ebola outbreak is actually used to fight the epidemic in the countries affected by the virus and not for other purposes;

6.      Urges that a ministerial meeting of the Council of the European Union be held in order to establish a strategy to mobilise the medical response to provide humanitarian aid from the Member States under the coordination of the Commission;

7.      Expresses its grave concern at the fact that in addition to the loss of life, the outbreak is having a number of significant economic impacts;

8.      Regrets the fact that tourism is being directly impacted in the affected countries, while other African countries not directly affected by the virus have also reported adverse effects on tourism, which is a major source of income for those countries;

9.      Notes that forecasts of economic growth have been reduced, with an initial World Bank/IMF assessment for Guinea projecting a full percentage point fall in GDP growth, from 4.5 to 3.5 per cent;

10.    Urges implementation of the new WHO roadmap for coordinating and scaling up the international response aimed at helping the affected countries stop ongoing transmission;

11.    Recalls that the WHO roadmap will be complemented by the development of a separate UN-wide operational platform, and accordingly calls on the UN to shape the new surge plan for the region; stresses that urgent needs include communications and messaging, care for the infected and proper burials, diagnosis and contact tracing, health services for other conditions, transport and supplies, cash to pay health workers, medical services for transporters, air and sea access, and close coordination in order to avert economic downturns;

12.    Urges execution of the various international plans (UN, WHO and EU - response, roadmap and action plan), since nearly 40 % of the total number of reported cases have occurred within the past 3 weeks;

13.    Welcomes the Commission’s desire to work closely with the EU Member States within the Health Security Committee in order to keep them informed of the latest developments and secure the synchronisation of measures;

14.    Stresses that mobilising international financial support and additional health personnel is a top priority for scaling up the international response;

15.    Believes that information and communication constitute an important aspect of the fight against the Ebola outbreak;

16.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the parliaments of the Member States, the UN Secretary-General and the World Health Organisation.

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