Britain, Sweden donate to struggling UN Ebola Fund

A picture taken on Sept 26, 2014 shows a man asking a health worker about his wife being treated at the medical centre of Doctor Without Borders (MSF) treating people infected with the Ebola virus in Monrovia. -- PHOTO: AFP
A picture taken on Sept 26, 2014 shows a man asking a health worker about his wife being treated at the medical centre of Doctor Without Borders (MSF) treating people infected with the Ebola virus in Monrovia. -- PHOTO: AFP

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - New pledges of financial aid to a UN Ebola fund have reached US$118 million with Britain and Sweden offering sizeable contributions after UN chief Ban Ki-moon pleaded for more money.

Britain pledged US$32 million (S$40 million) and Sweden US$15 million to the fund set up by Mr Ban to fight the Ebola outbreak, that has now killed nearly 4,900 people in West Africa, UN officials said Friday.

A US$1-billion-dollar appeal for financing by UN agencies has raised $491 million, nearly half the amount needed to fight the world's worst outbreak of the deadly virus.

The United Nations is leading the international response to the Ebola crisis and has set a target of ensuring at least 70 per cent of infected people are getting treatment by December 1.

Mr Ban last week caused a stir when he complained of having only $100,000 in cash on hand for the fund and urged nations to dig deep in their pockets.

Since then Australia deposited US$8.7 million and more countries have committed funds including Venezuela (US$5 million), Canada (US$3.6 million) and New Zealand (US$1.2 million).

China has offered US$6 million, Finland US$9.1 million, Germany US$6.3 million and Denmark US$5 million to the trust fund that gives the UN quick access to financing to fight the epidemic.

UN officials say they are hoping to have US$100 million in funding secured by the end of the month through formally signed agreements with donors.

So far it has signed commitments for funding totalling US$18.7 million, although the pledges stand at US$118 million.