UN chief: Fund to fight Ebola has $100,000 in bank

Last Updated: Fri, Oct 17, 2014 04:45 hrs

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that a trust fund he launched to provide fast and flexible funding for the fight against Ebola has only $100,000 in the bank.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the trust fund is part of a nearly $1 billion U.N. appeal for humanitarian needs in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three countries hardest-hit by the deadly virus.

Secretary-General Ban urged the international community to respond to the appeal immediately, which he said will enable the United Nations "to get ahead of the curve and meet our target of reducing the rate of transmission by Dec. 1."

The World Health Organization said Thursday that the Ebola death toll will reach more than 4,500 this week, from among 9,000 people infected by the deadly disease. It has projected that there could be between 5,000 and 10,000 new cases a week in early December without urgent action.

Dujarric said donors may choose to give directly to a U.N. agency or a specific country, or they may channel their contribution through the trust fund which will allow the U.N. to allocate the funds where they are most urgently required at the time.

The secretary-general said the trust fund had received about $20 million, but the United Nations later clarified that the $20 million has been pledged, and only $100,000 has actually been received.

As of Thursday, Dujarric said the wider $1 billion U.N. appeal had received $376 million in pledges, about 38 percent of the amount sought.

"Ebola is a huge and urgent global problem that demands a huge and urgent global response," Ban told reporters.

He said dozens of countries "are showing their solidarity," singling out the U.S., Britain, France, Canada, Germany, Poland, Japan, South Korea, Cuba and China. But he said it's time that countries that have "the capacity" — which he didn't identify — provide support.

The secretary-general said he liked the idea of greater public support for the fight against Ebola, including the possibility of a fundraising concert promoted by someone like U2 singer Bono.

"I would welcome any initiative taken by Mr. Bono or some other leaders around the world to join this campaign to mobilize funds and mobilize awareness to take urgent action all together and to show solidarity," Ban said.