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September 23, 2014
Ambassador Susan Rice
National Security Advisor
National Security Council
Dear Ambassador Rice:
As Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace and President of Catholic Relief Services, we welcome the Administration’s expanded response to the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa and leadership in bringing the United Nations Security Council together as positive first steps towards halting the downward spiral of this epidemic. The commitment of 3,000 military personnel and funds for 17 treatment centers and training of local health care workers at a cost of $750 million is an increase commensurate with the growing threat that is Ebola.
The Catholic Church is on the ground in West Africa exercising ministries of healing and comfort. The Church has a long history of engaging in health care and has an extensive network of health care institutions. We believe that every person is created in the image of God and that we encounter the divine in the sick: “For I was … ill and you cared for me” (Matthew 25).
In Liberia, Bishop Andrew Karnley reported that Ebola is the “biggest crisis since the civil war” ended a decade ago. “We are saddened that we have lost lives and it has thrown the country back in a reverse mode. But I hope it will challenge us to improve the health sector and create a long-term response to any form of health risk.” Msgr. Robert Vitillo, special advisor to the Catholic relief confederation, Caritas Internationalis, confirms that the Church and others are doing much to help Ebola victims; however, “extraordinary measures” are needed. Catholic Relief Services is also engaged throughout the region providing education and awareness of the disease.
The World Health Organization says the Ebola outbreak is growing exponentially and the number of cases could double every three weeks. If the international community does not follow through on its commitments in a timely manner and arrest this growth, it could cost hundreds of thousands of lives. At least $1 billion and many months of intensive action are needed to bring the epidemic under control. As a result, we urge the United States to:
Sincerely yours,Most Reverend Richard E. Pates
Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo
Catholic Relief Services
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