Thursday, October 9, 2014
PROOF OBAMA HATES THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HE AIR LIFTS EBOLA PEOPLE IN TO THE USA TO KILL US European Leaders Scramble to Upgrade Response to Ebola Crisis
BRUSSELS — When the Ebola virus was first identified in March as the cause of a series of mysterious deaths in the remote forests of Guinea, Europe moved quickly to battle a disease that has now infected more than 7,000 Africans and already killed around half of those. It mobilized more money and health workers than the United States, China or anyone else for West Africa.
But, proud of its long record as the world’s biggest donor of humanitarian aid, Europe has since suffered a blow to its self-image of can-do generosity. Its own efforts to contain the lethal virus have been overshadowed by President Obama’s announcement last month that he was sending 3,000 troops to West Africa to build hospitals and otherwise help in the fight against Ebola.
While a few left-wingers sneered at the American deployment as yet another example of Washington’s taste for military intervention — and praised Cuba for sending more than 100 doctors to West Africa — many European officials and politicians welcomed the move and wondered why what had been a European-led international effort to contain the virus had clearly not worked.
Now, with Europe grappling with the first case of Ebola transmitted on its soil after news on Monday that a nurse in Madrid had been infected, European leaders are scrambling to coordinate and ramp up their response to the lethal disease. As public anxieties grow, politicians on the far right are seizing on the Ebola crisis to demand sharp curbs in immigration, while those on the left rail against Europe’s colonial past and its failure to do more to help Africa contain the virus.
Pressure to contain the epidemic has prompted European Union officials in Brussels to start meeting daily with aid groups and representatives from member states to discuss how to best respond to the crisis. Europe’s emergency response unit, housed in a drab Brussels office block, used to focus on monitoring natural disasters and wars, but now tracks Ebola around the clock.
“Speed is of the essence, and there is a feeling that all of us have been behind the curve,” Claus Sorensen, director general of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, a department of the European Union’s Brussels administration, said in an interview.
For many months, the struggle against Ebola was a largely African and European effort. Doctors Without Borders, which was founded in France, set up a series of treatment centers. Its doctors and nurses stayed put while those of some other groups, like Samaritan’s Purse of the United States, pulled out after staff members became infected.
Doctors Without Borders, financed by the European Union and donors, now has nearly 300 international workers and 2,900 local employees in West Africa, according to Christof Godderis, a spokesman for the group’s Belgian branch, which has been at the forefront of the anti-Ebola campaign.
Yet the sight of American troops building clinics and unloading supplies has been a jolt to Europe’s longstanding belief that humanitarian assistance is a more effective tool for dealing with the problems of the world than military might. Together with its 28 member states, the European Union boasts of providing more than half of the global total of humanitarian assistance.
Linda McAvan, head of the European Parliament’s development committee, said Europe’s self-criticism is off-base. “The U.S. is one country,” she said. “If it wants to send its military, it can do that straight away. But the European Union does not have a military,” she said in an interview.
Instead, the bloc has 28 separate militaries, each one controlled by its national government.
Prodded by Mr. Obama’s Sept. 16 announcement, President François Hollande of France announced two days later that he, too, was sending troops to West Africa. The French soldiers will set up a hospital in the forest region of southern Guinea where the current Ebola outbreak began last December. Britain has ordered its military to do the same in Sierra Leone. European officials note that, unlike the American military, Britain and France will provide medical personnel to staff what they build.
Europe does not have a direct equivalent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the organization that has dispatched scores of disease-control experts to West Africa. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, headquartered in Sweden, coordinates the work of health experts in different countries but does not have its own emergency-response teams.
In a debate in the European Parliament a day after Mr. Obama’s announcement, politicians from across the political spectrum took the floor to complain that Europe needed to get more directly involved in battling Ebola in West Africa.
“Look at the way we have managed, or rather mismanaged, this epidemic,” Michèle Rivasi, a center-left French legislator, told the European Assembly. Abandoning customary French suspicion of the American military, she said that Washington was “not sending soldiers but people who can build hospitals, and that is a good thing.” Europe, she added, needed to step up its response.
The Parliament passed a resolution calling for a more robust European response to the outbreak and bemoaning “the underestimation of the crisis by the international community.”
In announcing the United States’ deployment, Mr. Obama was pointed in his message that America was “prepared to take the leadership on this” but could not fight the epidemic on its own. The White House in effect challenged other nations to roll out a similar level of response in Guinea and Sierra Leone, the two other nations hard hit by the disease, which were colonies of France and Britain, respectively.
The pressure to stem the spread of Ebola at its roots has grown as both Europe and the United States have encountered their own cases. A Liberian man died on Wednesday at a Dallas hospital. A Spanish nurse who treated a priest who had been airlifted from Sierra Leone for treatment at a Madrid hospital is the first known case of Ebola being contracted through exposure outside Africa.
After months of reassuring Europeans that there was little danger of Ebola spreading in Europe, the European Union responded with dismay and sent a letter to the Spanish authorities asking for an explanation.
Despite sometimes incendiary remarks by extremists like Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder and honorary president of France’s National Front party, mainstream politicians have united behind support for West Africa.
“The values we stand for as Europeans in the world, of solidarity, of dignity and of respect for human rights, are such that our support to the countries concerned is a moral duty,” said Françoise Grossête, a Christian Democrat, during the European Parliament debate.
Mr. Sorensen, the director general for humanitarian aid in Brussels, scoffed at demands from some populist politicians that Europe should seal itself off from infected countries. Noting that tight border controls had never stopped flu from spreading, he said: “It is better to deal with this disease at its root and not wait until it comes here like the plague in the Middle Ages.”
Despite its cumbersome decision-making apparatus, Mr. Sorensen said, the European Union moved swiftly back in March, allocating extra financing to Doctors Without Borders, within days of the virus being identified. The private aid organization has been a leader in providing an extensive front-line response.
At first it looked as if the response was adequate, with reported cases leveling off and even dropping, raising hopes that, as in 23 previous Ebola outbreaks recorded in Africa since 1976, the virus had been contained.
Instead it spread, in part because some people feared that aid workers might actually be spreading the disease and stopped seeking treatment. Doctors Without Borders closed a facility in southern Guinea after an attack in April by a stone-throwing crowd. Villagers later killed eight African members of a team trying to raise awareness of Ebola in that region.
The European Union has since sharply stepped up its financing to Ebola-hit countries, with a total of $230 million now committed to the region. Of that, about $127 million will go toward trying to prop up rudimentary health and other government services in Liberia and Sierra Leone, with an additional $51 million targeted directly at Ebola efforts. Individual European countries have pledged upward of $255 million.
Philippe Maughan, a European Union aid official who was recently in West Africa, said support to governments was vital because Ebola also kills indirectly by paralyzing hospitals and making it impossible for Africans with unrelated ailments to get treatment. “If you drop on the street from a heart attack, nobody will touch you because they think you have Ebola,” he said.