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Germany promises help to Ebola-hit Liberia

September 17, 2014

Germany has said it will provide logistical help to tackle the West African Ebola crisis in the worst-hit country, Liberia. The World Bank has warned that the disease could have a "catastrophic" economic impact.

Ebola in Liberia
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/C. Van Nespen

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that Germany would provide logistical support to Liberia as the country struggles to cope with the crisis.

The government is expected to send transport planes as well as standby aircraft to fly medical staff out of infected countries for treatment. Berlin is also considering sending a mobile hospital and helping to build a clinic.

The response followed a letter from Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to numerous governments, asking for help. Merkel's office said the chancellor had been "very moved" by the request.

"The situation is dramatic," said Merkel on Wednesday. "We will act very quickly and will be available with everything that we have at our disposal. We will meet our responsibilities."

Earlier on Wednesday, Johnson-Sirleaf had expressed hope that a US decision to send troops to Liberia would encourage other governments to pledge assistance.

Ebola in Westafrika
The rapid spread of Ebola has left Liberian authorities struggling to copeImage: picture-alliance/dpa

'World community has a stake'

President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday that Washington would send troops in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

"Our American partners realize Liberia cannot defeat Ebola alone. This disease is not simply a Liberian or West African problem. The entire community of nations has a stake in ending this crisis," Johnson Sirleaf said in a written statement.

The World Bank said on Wednesday that Ebola would have a significant effect on the economies of affected countries. The bank, which provides loans to developing countries for capital projects, said 2015 GDP would fall by 3.3 percent in Guinea, 11.7 percent in Liberia and 8.9 percent in Sierra Leone.

"If the virus continues to surge in the three worst-affected countries - Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone - its economic impact could grow eight-fold, dealing a potentially catastrophic blow to the already fragile states," the bank noted.

The disease has killed at least 2,400 people - more than half of them in Liberia.

rc/glb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)