As the dreaded Ebola virus continues to wreck havoc in West and North Africa-with the number reaching escalating levels of over 2,000 of those infected and lives claimed, some senior mining executives now seek international military support to fight it.
According to World Health Organisation, the Ebola virus which has since February this year swept through most parts of North and West Africa, raising fears of spreading to other parts of the continent, many lives remain at risk of contracting the disease, described as the worst catastrophe in human history.
The UN health agency has to this effect, staked over US$200 million to help combat its spread further in the Sub Saharan Africa, with calls to all regional bodies, Southern African Development Community, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the East African Community, among other economic blocs, to take an alert stance in the fight against the scourge.
Concerned at the effects on the operations of the affected mining companies operating in the affected areas 11 mining Chief Executive Officers have called on the international community to step up the fight against Ebola.
The 11 companies, prying their businesses in the affected zones have since welcomed President Barack Obama’s statement on additional US military support.
The Mining review, citing Randgold Resources, along with a group of ten other companies operating in West Africa, says the companies are concerned about the impact of the Ebola virus on their operations and the well-being of their workers and people, which is being compounded by subsequent decisions and actions that affect travel to and trade with the region.
Mining Reviews quotes a statement from one of the companies- Randgold saying: “Our companies have made long term commitments to these countries and their people and we intend to honour that commitment.
“We have strong ties to hundreds of local communities that depend on our operations. Despite the challenging environment, we are continuing where possible with normal operations, with the health and safety of our employees being the absolute priority at all times,”
“We have enormous respect for the organisations and selfless individuals working to contain this outbreak and are committed to support them and the governments concerned to bring the epidemic to an end. As a group we are in regular dialogue with governments, NGOs and other task forces involved to support their work.”
A larger coordinated global effort is required; the statement is further cited by the mining journal as saying.
“The global community has a strong track record in responding to natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes and a similar strength of resolve is needed to tackle an epidemic that has the potential to cause great harm to this region.”
The gold mining company has urged the international community to pool its resources and lend support to help reverse the virus and enable these countries to recover as swiftly as possible from dealing with the epidemic.
Citing a recent statement by the United States leader Barack Obama as saying recently it states that as per recent declaration by President Obama concerning US military support in the region it is exactly the type of action that is required,”
“Furthermore there is a risk the measures being taken to restrict travel to the countries most impacted by the virus will aggravate the growing humanitarian crisis.
“Ebola is without doubt a horrific virus. But it is a virus that with the right understanding, precautions and processes in place should be avoidable and containable. That’s why we are calling for the immediate opening of humanitarian and economic corridors to the affected countries and urge the international community to respect the ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States) call to lift any travel bans in accordance with the WHO (World Health Organization) recommendation.” Randgold said.
Without the support of the international community the situation for these economies, many of whom are only beginning to return to stability after decades of civil war, will be even more catastrophic.
The mining companies joining together against the spread of Ebola in West Africa include:
· African Mining Services – John Kavanagh, General Manager for African Operations
· ArcelorMittal – Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and CEO
· Aureus Mining Inc – David Reading, CEO
· Dawnus Group – Bob Jones, Managing Director
· Golden Veroleum Liberia – David Rothschild, Director
· Hummingbird Resources Plc – Dan Betts, CEO
· IAMGOLD Corporation – Stephen J.J. Letwin, President and CEO
· London Mining Plc – Graeme Hossie, CEO
· MonuRent – Tony Carr, CEO
· Newmont Mining Corporation – Gary Goldberg, President and CEO
· Randgold Resources – Mark Bristow, CEO
Earlier, Time Magazine put the figure of people at risk of contracting Ebola virus at 2,300 with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledging to provide funds in excess of US$50 million to U.N. agencies combating the disease, according to the Time Magazine in its recent edition.
The foundation said it would release flexible funds to U.N. agencies combating the disease, which has already killed over 2,000 people in its worst ever outbreak.
“We are working urgently with our partners to identify the most effective ways to help them save lives now” part of the statement by Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann said.
The foundation said it has already committed $10 million out of the total $50 million. In addition, it will also pledge $2 million to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There have been promising developments in the search for a cure, with a new vaccine reportedly producing positive results. However, the rapidly accelerating spread of Ebola has caused the WHO to project that over 20,000 people will be infected by October.
The disease has raised concern among Africa’s major trading blocs-Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Southern African Development Community, the East African Community, among others.
Health authorities in various countries, as a measure, are seeking to initiate measures including travel bans for people and vehicles across borders as a measure to fight the scourge.
This it is feared, might hamper the envisaged trade and regional transformation efforts being put in place by concerned trade blocs that rely on intra-trade to grow their economies.