UNICEF has partnered with the UAE Ministry of International Cooperation and Development (MICAD) on a $5m project to fight Ebola in the severely hit West African nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone with a focus on the direct and indirect risk to children.
Thousands of children across the region have now been orphaned by the virus or left with limited access to nutrition, sanitation and basic services such as healthcare, education and protection.
In addition to contributing to education programmes and procuring supplies for use in Ebola Treatment Units and community care centres, UNICEF is focusing on restoring basic social services like maternal and paediatric healthcare, and protection services for children who have lost their families to the epidemic.
“This valuable contribution from the UAE is not surprising,” noted Dr Ibrahim El Ziq, UNICEF’s regional representative for the Gulf. “The UAE has been championing health and emergency response for many years, achieving remarkable results for causes such as polio eradication.”
“UNICEF and the government of the UAE have been close partners in the Syria response, Gaza and now the fight against Ebola, and it is heartening to see this understanding for the needs of children and this unwavering commitment from the government to urgently provide the needed support.”
Dubai also plays an important indirect role as a base for the international response to Ebola, through the UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) based in Dubai Humanitarian City.
Legatum, a Dubai-based think tank, has meanwhile announced a donation of $150,000 to the Ebola Crisis Fund, established by Capital for Good in cooperation with Geneva Global, and seeking to raise $1m over three months and fast-track donations to vetted organisations.
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has now killed more than 4,500 people, according the case count collated between the Centre for Disease Control and World Health Organisation, with the involved Zaire strain of the virus killing an estimated 70% of its victims.
The spread of the virus has aided by a number of local customs and governmental failings, but criticism has also been directed towards the international community, which groups such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have said has been slow to react.
“The world is mobilising, but we need to reach the smallest villages in the most remote locations. Indications are that things will get worse before they improve – how much worse depends on us all,” stated Denise Brown, the World Food Programme (WFP)’s regional director for West Africa.
It is now expected that the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa will continue well into 2015, and attention is increasingly turning towards the socio-economic impact of the epidemic, particularly as aid agencies sees the reversal of many of the advances made in the region over the last few decades.