News / Africa

    Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

    Obama Unveils Plan to Contain Ebolai
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    Luis Ramirez
    September 17, 2014 1:02 AM
    President Barack Obama has announced a plan to contain the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa, indicating the world is relying on the United States to confront the outbreak that has killed more than 2,000 people. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
    ເບິ່ງວີດີໂອ ກ່ຽວກັບລາຍງານນີ້.
    VOA News

    The United States is ready to take leadership for a global response to the deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa, President Barack Obama said Tuesday, as he announced plans to send thousands of U.S. troops to the region.  (Click here to read President Obama's remarks on Ebola)

    “Faced with this outbreak, the world is looking to us, the United States, and it’s a responsibility that we embrace, we are prepared to take leadership on this, to provide the type of capabilities that only America has and mobilize our resources in ways that only America can do,” he said.  

    The initiative, announced by Obama at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, comes as the virus has infected more than 5,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal.

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    Liberia has been the hardest hit, accounting for about half of the more than 2,500 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

    Plan details

    Under the U.S. plan, 3,000 U.S. troops will be sent to a new command center in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, to help with the transportation of supplies and other personnel.

    U.S. forces will construct 17 health care facilities of 100 beds each to isolate and treat victims. The U.S. mission will also set up a facility to train 500 health care workers per week.

    “An already very weak public health system is near collapse in these (West African) countries. Patients are being turned away and people are literally dying in the streets,” Obama said. “Here’s the hard truth: in West Africa, Ebola is now an epidemic of the likes we have not seen before. It's spiraling out of control, it is getting worse, it’s spreading faster and exponentially.”

    Outbreak could spread
     

    4 Key Goals of US Ebola Strategy

    • Control the epidemic at its source in West Africa
    • Mitigate second-order impacts, including blunting the economic, social and political tolls in the region
    • Engage and coordinate with a broader global audience
    • Fortify global health security infrastructure in the region and beyond

    Source: White House

    The number of people infected could grow to tens or even hundreds of thousands, he warned, if the outbreak isn’t stopped now.

    That would mean “profound political and economic and security implications for all of us,” he said. “This is an epidemic that is not just a threat to regional security, it’s a threat to global security if these countries break down, if their economics break down, if people panic. And that has a profound effect on all of us, even if we are not directly contracting the disease.”

    Dr. Kent Brantly, an American doctor who survived Ebola, told a U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday said there's no time to waste in ramping up the response to the epidemic in West Africa.

    "We can't afford to wait months, or even weeks, to take action, to put people on the ground," Brantly said.

    At a packed Senate hearing, the CDC's Dr. Beth Bell told senators the outbreak is "ferocious and spreading exponentially."

    "If we do not act now to stop Ebola, we could be dealing with it for years to come," she warned.

    In Liberia, the U.S. Agency for International Development — the government’s lead international aid agency — will also hand out protection kits and train people to protect themselves and their families. The effort will initially target the 400,000 most vulnerable households in Liberia, and then expand to cover the entire country and the region.

    The World Health Organization has said it needs foreign medical teams with 500-600 experts as well as at least 10,000 local health workers.

    So far Cuba and China have said they will send medical staff to Sierra Leone. Cuba will deploy 165 people in October.

    China is sending a mobile laboratory with 59 staff to speed up testing for the disease. It already has 115 staff and a Chinese-funded hospital there.

    Criticism of international efforts

    The announcement also comes as medical aid agencies, development specialists and some African officials have grumbled that the Obama administration’s response has been inadequate, particularly given the potential for havoc in poor, post-conflict countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone.

    The United States, in particular, drew criticism last week when it promised to set up a 25-bed field hospital in Liberia, the country hardest hit by the outbreak. Many thought the contribution was paltry, given that experts were saying Liberia needed at least 500 more treatment beds.

    Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last week appealed directly to the Obama administration for help, saying, "Without more direct help from your government, we will lose this battle against Ebola.”

    "Only governments like yours have the resources and assets to deploy at the pace required to arrest the spread," Sirleaf wrote in her letter.

    Ahead of Obama announcement, Joanne Liu, president of the aid group Médecins Sans Frontières, told a U.N. panel in Geneva that the international community’s response to date has been inadequate.

    “Today, the response to Ebola continues to fall dangerously behind,” Liu said in prepared remarks.

    “The window of opportunity to contain this outbreak is closing. We need more countries to stand up, we need greater deployment, and we need it now.  This robust response must be coordinated, organized and executed under clear chain of command," she said.

    UN Response

    The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, was scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on the crisis on Thursday. Diplomats said it will only be the second public health crisis discussed by the council, which discussed the AIDS pandemic in 2000.

    "I don't need to tell any of you how unusual Security Council debates on public health issues and public health crises are,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said, “but at this moment it is crucial that council members discuss the status of the epidemic, confer on a coordinated international response, and begin the process of marshaling our collective resources to stop the spread of the disease.”

    In a recent interview with NBC, Obama said while Ebola does not pose an imminent threat to Americans, containing the outbreak is a top national security priority.

    “Quite frankly, ladies and gentlemen, this health crisis we're facing is unparalleled in modern times,” WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward told reporters in Geneva. “We don't know where the numbers are going on this.”

    The ability of Liberia and Sierra Leone to continue their recovery after years of civil conflict, and deliver the necessities of daily life for their people is in danger, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said.

    “And, that is why we must act now, if we want to avoid greater humanitarian consequences in the future,” Amos said.

    “First, we must prevent the complete collapse of health systems in the affected countries. Already, it is estimated that more people have died from secondary aspects. For example, malaria, tuberculosis or in childbirth or from chronic illnesses then have died from Ebola,” she said.

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    Comments page of 3
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    by: Duotay SERKER from: liberia
    September 18, 2014 4:27 PM
    It is TRUE, people are dieing daily in liberia.so we are kindly asking the international help and we need people of God to pray for us.

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    September 17, 2014 11:40 PM
    I am again impressed that the US has world-wide viewpoint and courage. Even though to avoid its own risks., sending troops to Liberia this time would also help Liberian sufferers and benefit international people preventing Ebola from spreading overseas.

    We Japanese and Japanese government are not the type of person and system to pay attention to faraway incidents and dare take actions at the risk of our own disadvantage. I admire American people who let Mr. Obama make decision like this time.

    by: DoGoodinNC from: NC
    September 17, 2014 3:14 PM
    I admire and want to support Pres Obama and want to stop ebola. But I worry that our troops will bring ebola back to the U.S. When our troops returned from WWI in 1918 they brought back influenza, which killed over 500,000 in the U.S. alone.

    by: Stanley H. Sheriff from: Monrovia
    September 17, 2014 12:39 PM
    Let take this time to say thank u America. we are very much greatful for the step u have taken. our people are dying every minute that count. we can not fight this virus alone at all, we can. this bore step will help us minimize the death rates in and around the country. ignorance and ensinceraty are the tools that is spreading this virus

    by: Concerned Citizen from: US
    September 17, 2014 10:37 AM
    Why can't the US send money to these governments to fight Ebola instead of sending our troops into a situation they are not trained for? Why is the US government action always to send troops into another country? This is jeopardizing our country and citizens with all these troops having the possibility bringing this disease back home to America. Send them money - keep our troops in the US..............
    In Response

    by: Ben Dover from: U.S.
    October 01, 2014 1:46 PM
    This is because money alone won't fix the problems they're experiencing. Sending money alone in will only complicate things (think of all of the 'independent contractors' who like the thought of all that money being left in vulnerable areas). Plus, if we don't try to help -remember, money alone won't help- it'll grow and grow and the entire world will be made vulnerable to its spread. It's better to provide facilities in this place and try to keep it from getting too powerful than to ignore it or take useless action.

    by: Momo K. Cassell from: Monrovia
    September 17, 2014 9:12 AM
    Thank God for answering our prayers. Nations will continue to come to our aid. Ours is a case of testimony. God will use the right people and the right equipment and supplies to save us from this menace.

    Thanks to the United Nations, CDC, WHO, MSF, SIM-ELWA, United States of America, president and officials of the Liberian government, other humanitarian organizations and all who are contributing some way to the fight against Ebola. This is the kind of effort God loves to see. The stance by President Obama is laudable, joining the fight by taking the leadership role.

    May God save us from the menace.

    by: Musa A. Kromah from: Gbarnga City, Liberia
    September 17, 2014 8:04 AM
    Thanks Mr Obama And Ur Administration For Such Help For Us

    by: Gl C from: USA
    September 17, 2014 8:04 AM
    God bless our soldiers for they have been sent to do a job for which they are not equipped nor trained. The unfortunates who contract Ebola over there will come back for here for treatment, and as likely as not, will infect other personnel at home, etc.

    by: steven orji from: Benin Rb
    September 17, 2014 7:56 AM
    May youur day be long and those that you send to Liberia,Mr president Obama,thanks a lot

    by: DistantEarlyWarning611 from: New York City
    September 17, 2014 6:53 AM
    Great, along with cutting our military the Barrack Hussein Obama Bin Golfin is condemning 3000 of our troops to death by sending them to an Ebola infested country. This is treason to me. This dictator has no love for our country, our citizens and it's military. It is clear that he wants us defeated and under the jurisdiction of the U.N.. Still dont believe in the NWO? Better wake up America. It's already here.
    In Response

    by: Ben Dover from: US
    October 01, 2014 1:54 PM
    The idea that him taking actions to keep this thing from getting too big for us to stop it is treason is hard to digest. If this doens't get slowed, we're going to experience it throughout the world (unless you're planning on bombing the area or something like that, they'll continue to strive for survival, which includes leaving the infected area in attempts to get away from the infected area even if already infected.) So if you're suggesting that we're not taking actions to help ourselves in this, then you must not understand how disease works. Kill it quickly and it is simple (if not easy). Wait until it's too late... and then things get complicated.

    Plus, calling him a dictator and blaming him for the mistakes of President Bush, who got us involved in the wars we're currently still in, raised the national debt far too much for Pres. Obama to repair in 8 years, and enacted just as many Executive Actions and changes in the way our Government works as Obama, isn't a very good policy for trying to make a genuine argument. Oh, and I think that trying to provide healthcare to EVEYONE in the U.S. really doesn't lend itself to your belief that he 'has no love for our country, our citizens and it's military'.
    In Response

    by: Mister Z. from: USA
    September 18, 2014 8:29 AM
    I do not understand either. How Obama is still in office is a mystery. He has broken countless laws, and nobody seems to want to stop him. Our country is in great danger every day he is in charge !
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