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Nuncio to UN urges world leaders to commit to Ebola fight

Archbishop Bernardito Auza (PA)

The Vatican’s United Nations (UN) nuncio called on world leaders on July 10 to make “action-oriented commitments” to accomplish the goal of “getting to zero and staying at zero” regarding outbreaks of Ebola.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza said the world risks complacency if nations do not make “tangible progress in the strengthening and preparedness of health systems to avoid future outbreaks.”

The Vatican’s permanent representative to the United Nations made the comment during the International Ebola Recovery Conference and Technical Consultation held on July 9-10 at the UN. He noted the conference had set a “zero” goal for Ebola outbreaks.

He said the Catholic Church continues “to provide significant resources” to “enhance and expand” programmes of Catholic-related institutions in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three main countries affected by the disease.

Archbishop Auza noted a new death attributed to Ebola in Liberia as further evidence the problem has not been eradicated. That death, he said, occurred about 45 days after “the country had been declared Ebola free”.

Pope Francis has spoken often of the Church’s “close solidarity with those affected by this epidemic.”

The Pontiff himself has granted more than $550,000 to initiatives to address Ebola.

In an address to members of the diplomatic corps, Pope Francis “mentioned the sick who are so often cast aside and marginalised, including, in particular, Ebola victims,” said Archbishop Auza.

The Pope, he noted, appealed “to the entire international community to provide adequate humanitarian assistance to patients and to make concerted efforts to combat the disease.”

“These communities strongly opposed discrimination against those who recovered from the illness and children who have been orphaned by the Ebola-related deaths of their parents, while actively working for their reintegration into their families and communities,” he told the UN conference. “They have also promoted safe and dignified burial practices.”

Archbishop Auza said the Vatican pledged $20,000 to support national and regional Ebola recovery strategies.