I thank the Secretary-General for his remarks and Dr. Chan for her briefing.
Italy fully aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union and would like to add a few remarks in a national capacity.
Ebola is more than a health crisis: it has already become a broader humanitarian emergency with dramatic social, economic, security and political implications. We are deeply concerned by the gravity of the situation and are closely following its evolution. We are also mobilizing both public and private institutions to support Countries struck by the virus and prevent further transmission of the disease.
At this juncture, it is of the utmost importance to undertake determined, collective action to stop the Ebola epidemic, which is indeed a global threat to security. We will take every opportunity during our ongoing European Presidency – within the EU Council’s Working Groups on Humanitarian and Development Affairs (COHAFA and CODEV) – to deepen the discussion, raise the awareness of EU Member States, and mobilize additional resources to tackle the Ebola virus in an effective, concerted way. The EU Ministers of Health will meet in Milan on 22 and 23 September to coordinate the response to the Ebola outbreak.
The Italian Government has supported the World Health Organization since the outbreak of the crisis, making a preliminary contribution of 200 thousand Euros in April for WHO’s activities in Guinea Conakry. An additional 240 thousand Euros was recently disbursed. Moreover, we have just approved a bilateral action – to be implemented in partnership with Italian NGOs and the Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome – for the prevention and treatment of the virus, through capacity-building and technical-assistance to the National Health System of the affected countries and public information about the transmission of the disease. In the near future, new humanitarian initiatives – for a value of up to 4 million euros – will be carried out by Italian Development Cooperation, depending on the situation on the ground.
Italy’s expertise in bio-security could be an asset for tackling the Ebola emergency. We are open to discussing further, on a case-by-case basis, the technical and financial details of possible joint operations of medical evacuation of international personnel.
In conclusion, allow me, Madam President, to pay tribute to the extraordinary efforts of the humanitarian and health workers in the front line, who continue to work in the affected countries, placing their own lives at risk. I would also like to praise the massive efforts of the Governments of the affected countries, who are bearing the heaviest burden of this tragedy.