South Korea to send Ebola relief team to West Africa

October 17, 2014
In this 2014 photo provided by the Samaritan's Purse aid organization, Dr. Kent Brantly, left, treats an Ebola patient at the Samaritan's Purse Ebola Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. On Saturday, July 26, 2014, the North Carolina-based aid organization said Brantly tested positive for the disease and was being treated at a hospital in Monrovia. (AP Photo/Samaritan's Purse)

In this 2014 photo provided by the Samaritan’s Purse aid organization, Dr. Kent Brantly, left, treats an Ebola patient at the Samaritan’s Purse Ebola Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. (AP Photo/Samaritan’s Purse)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea is likely to send a disaster relief team of volunteer medical workers to West Africa in an effort to help contain the spread of the deadly Ebola virus there, government sources said Friday.

Speaking at a biennial summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan on Thursday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said that Seoul will dispatch a group of medical workers to West Africa in a bid to lend support to the global efforts to curb Ebola.

The decision came as the United Nations has been appealing for the international community to further support the efforts to contain the deadly epidemic, which is estimated to have killed 4,500 people.

“Medical personnel are likely to be sent to Ebola-hit West African countries as a form of the disaster relief team,” a government source said.

Amid concerns about the spread of the Ebola virus, U.S. President Barack Obama called for a “faster and more robust international response to the Ebola epidemic.”

“The decision to send medical personnel was made as the Ebola outbreak has evolved into a serious crisis that threatens the stability of the international community,” Seoul’s foreign ministry said in a statement Thursday.

South Korea has so far pledged $5.6 million to support the fight against the virus.

The Seoul government plans to hold an emergency meeting on the related matter as early as next week and to finalize details about the composition of the medical workers and safety measures, the sources added.

“For now, it is hard to predict how many medical workers will be dispatched,” the government source added.

Seoul has sent relief teams to disaster-hit overseas countries twice so far on humanitarian grounds.

Rescue and medical workers were dispatched to Japan when it was devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. A group of such personnel was also sent to the Philippines in 2013 when the country was hit by super typhoon Haiyan.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called on the international community to chip in money to a trust fund that he launched to raise $1 billion to meet a pre-set target of cutting the transmission rate by Dec. 1.

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