G20 leaders commit to 'extinguish' Ebola outbreak

G20 leaders commit to 'extinguish' Ebola outbreak

BRISBANE, Australia - Leaders of the world's most powerful economies on Saturday vowed to do all they can to "extinguish" the deadly Ebola outbreak in west Africa, but there were no cash commitments.

A statement issued by G20 leaders during their summit in Brisbane came on the heels of the United Nations urging them to intensify their response, warning of a major food crisis if they failed to act.

"G20 members are committed to do what is necessary to ensure the international effort can extinguish the outbreak and address its medium-term economic and humanitarian costs," the leaders said.

They added that they would step up their response to a crisis that has left more than 5,000 people dead in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone through "bilateral, regional and multilateral channels, and in partnership with non-governmental stakeholders".

"We will share our experiences of successfully fighting Ebola with our partners, including to promote safe conditions and training for health care and relief workers," they said.

"We will work to expedite the effective and targeted disbursement of funds and other assistance, balancing between emergency and longer-term needs." World Bank president Jim Yong Kim this week called for the establishment of a multi-billion-dollar contingency fund to ensure relief efforts mobilise immediately when an infection threat such as Ebola or a rogue influenza strain emerges.

There was no mention of this by the G20, but Kim nevertheless welcomed the group's call as "an important commitment to combat Ebola and address the terrible human and economic impact of the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone".

The G20 welcomed the IMF's initiative to release $300 million to stem the Ebola outbreak, although the US government wants the Fund to go further in forgiving $100 million (S$130 million) in debt owed by Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

"We ask the IMF and World Bank to explore new, flexible mechanisms to address the economic effects of future comparable crises," the G20 leaders said.

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