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World lost ‘precious time’ in Ebola fight: EU

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The European Union urged the international community Monday to make up for “precious time” lost in the response to the deadly Ebola outbreak in west Africa, calling for more contributions to fight the crisis.

“We are behind the curve and for a reason,” EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said at a special meeting in Brussels to devise a Europe-wide response to the outbreak ahead of UN meetings later this month.

“When the warning signs were there, it took some time for the international community to pay attention. Precious time was lost.”

The outbreak that has killed at least 2,400 people in West Africa since it erupted earlier this year.

European countries “can present a very strong commitment” at the UN to help the countries hardest-hit, Georgieva said.

She urged member states to add to the 150 million euros ($195 million) already pledged by the EU last week.

At the Brussels meeting, called by France, a dozen countries offered to boost aid.

More than half of the deaths have been recorded in Liberia, where President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has warned the outbreak is destroying the country’s social fabric.

“We must isolate the disease, but not the country,” said Tonio Borg, the EU’s Health Commissioner, referring to international airlines that have cut links to the affected countries, which also include Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama is expected to ask Congress to approve his request for $88 million to fund Washington’s response to the crisis.

Malaysia on Monday said it will send more than 20 million medical rubber gloves to African nations stricken by the Ebola virus. SAPA

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