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Oxfam urges more troops to stop Ebola 'disaster'

Oxfam admitted it was "extremely rare" for it to urge military intervention but said that troops had the logistical expertise and capacity to respond quickly in great numbers.

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Updated:October 18, 2014, 10:40 PM IST
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Oxfam urges more troops to stop Ebola 'disaster'
Oxfam admitted it was "extremely rare" for it to urge military intervention but said that troops had the logistical expertise and capacity to respond quickly in great numbers.

London: Ebola could become the "definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation", the aid agency Oxfam warned on Saturday, as it issued a call for more troops, funding and medical staff to be sent to west Africa.

The appeal was targeted at EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, and came as British Prime Minister David Cameron urged fellow European leaders to step up their collective action against the deadly virus.

"The Ebola crisis could become the definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation," said a spokesperson for the British-based charity, which is working to reduce the impact of Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Oxfam admitted it was "extremely rare" for it to urge military intervention but said that troops had the logistical expertise and capacity to respond quickly in great numbers. Chief executive Mark Goldring added "We are in the eye of a storm. We cannot allow Ebola to immobilise us in fear, but instead we must move toward a common mission to stop it from getting worse.

"Countries that have failed to commit troops, doctors and enough funding are in danger of costing lives. The speed and scale of the intervention needed is unprecedented. Only a concerted and coordinated global effort will stop the spread."

Cameron also urged EU leaders meeting on Thursday and Friday in Brussels to commit more funds and staff to the fight against Ebola, and to increase coordination on screening at ports of entry to Europe.

British officials say the total contribution from the EU so far is 500 million euros (US dollar 640 million) -- of which almost 160 million euros is from Britain -- and Cameron said this should be doubled to one billion euros.

"The Ebola outbreak in west Africa is an issue that requires a substantial global response," the prime minister wrote, adding that "much more must be done".

He said EU leaders should "commit to an ambitious package of support to help reduce the rate of transmission in west Africa, to reduce the risk of transmission within Europe, and to pledge long-term support to assist with recovery, resilience and stability in the region".

Cameron also proposed the EU mobilise at least 2,000 workers to go to the region, including 1,000 clinical staff, by the middle of November.

Britain's contribution, which includes 750 troops, is focused on fighting Ebola in its former colony Sierra Leone.

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