World Bulletin/News Desk
The European Union appointed a coordinator on Thursday to lead its drive to fight Ebola in West Africa following criticism that European efforts so far to contain the world's worst recorded outbreak of the disease have been inadequate.
Christos Stylianides, who takes over on Nov. 1 as the EU's commissioner for humanitarian affairs and crisis management, will also be the 28-nation bloc's point man on Ebola.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said that leaders meeting in Brussels had chosen the Greek Cypriot, following a similar move by the United States, which recently named Ron Klain as its Ebola "czar".
A trained dental surgeon, Stylianides, 56, has been a member of parliament and was spokesman for the Greek Cypriot government during last year's financial crisis on the island.
European states have been stepping up their contributions of cash, hospitals and health workers recently after criticism by aid officials of a slow early response to an outbreak that has claimed nearly 5,000 lives, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
"Up until now, the response from most EU governments has been woefully inadequate," Oxfam's Natalia Alonso said last week. The aid group said on Thursday it expected to hear strong new pledges of cash from EU heads of state and guarantees to turn those pledges into cash without delay.
Oxfam also called on European countries to deploy more medics, equipment and military personnel immediately.
British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote to other EU leaders before the summit urging them to agree to send 2,000 healthcare workers to Africa and to double EU financial aid to one billion euros.
The EU leaders will say that a "sustained, coordinated and increased response is required to curb current trends" in the spread of infection, according to a draft statement seen by Reuters.
Most European initiatives so far to counter Ebola in West Africa have been national rather than EU efforts.
Britain has sent 750 troops to Sierra Leone to help set up treatment units and a training facility and it is providing more than 700 treatment beds in the former British colony.
France has promised to set up new treatment centres for Ebola in Guinea, once a French colony.
Smaller EU countries have said they are ready to send healthcare workers to West Africa but lack the resources to evacuate them if they caught the disease.
The EU addressed this problem this week by providing a guarantee to international health workers that they would either be flown to Europe or receive high-quality treatment on the spot if they caught the disease in West Africa.
EU countries have disagreed on the need to screen passengers arriving in Europe on flights from disease-affected countries.Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Ekim 2014, 10:52