US pledges military support for fight against Ebola in West Africa

(By Deutsche Welle) In an effort to contain the Ebola outbreak, the US plans to dispatch thousands of military personnel to assist health care workers in West Africa. Governments in the region have been overwhelmed by the epidemic.

US President Barack Obama announced plans on Tuesday to deploy 3,000 American military personnel to West Africa, part of a ramped up international campaign to contain the most severe outbreak of the Ebola virus in history.

Speaking at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, Obama said that the US personnel would provide desperately needed medical and logistical support to countries in the region. The American military detachment will have its headquarters in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.

“[Ebola is] a global threat and demands a truly global response,” the US president said at CDC headquarters.

“In West Africa, Ebola is now an epidemic, the likes that we have not seen before. It’s spiralling out of control, it’s getting worse.

“The world has a responsibility to act…[and] we have to act fast,” he added. “Men, women and children [in West Africa] are just sitting, waiting to die. And it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Faced with Ebola’s unprecedented spread, Doctors Without Borders has been requesting emergency military assistance for weeks now, softening its normally skeptical attitude toward working with the world’s armed services.

“Although we have not yet seen the official details, we welcome the ambition of the new US Ebola response plan, which appears to match the scope of the disaster unfolding in West Africa,” Brice de le Vingne, director of operations at Doctors Without Borders, said prior to Obama’s speech.

“This latest pledge, alongside those from a handful of other countries, needs to be put into action immediately,” he added.

But Doctors Without Borders – known by its French acronym MSF – has made clear that military personnel should not be used for crowd control or quarantine, warning that such measures would only trigger fear among the people.

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