Paris, September 18, 2014
The world is facing another scourge, very different in nature [from terrorism], which may prove just as disastrous if we consider the number of victims: more than 2,500 as I speak. I’m talking about the Ebola epidemic. There too, France must shoulder its responsibilities, out of solidarity with Africa – that’s the very least [it can do] for countries affected, which are friends – but also for the sake of our own health security. Solidarity is often the best way of ensuring one’s own security. That’s true at the external level and it’s also true at domestic level. Everyone must bear this principle in mind.
The epidemic is hitting vulnerable populations. There are countries – three in particular – that are now cut off and isolated. They can no longer have the slightest contact with the outside world.
The World Health Organization is carrying out its job well. Médecins Sans Frontières is doing outstanding work. A French medical worker from that organization has just caught the disease. She is being repatriated and will be taken to hospital here in Paris, under optimum conditions. I want to pay tribute to all those who are taking these risks to ensure there’s no risk to us.
But there too, active international efforts are needed. Europe has released €140 million; that’s good. France has also contributed. The United States has intervened on a massive scale in Liberia, sending 3,000 people.
So France is also going to act. Not just through financial assistance – that’s already been done in Guinea, one of the countries most affected. Médecins Sans Frontières has already deployed treatment units. So I’ve decided to set up, in the coming days, a military hospital in the forest region of Guinea, the area most severely affected by the epidemic. I’m asking the Defence Minister to coordinate this action and involve military doctors and civil defence, along with air units, because they’re essential. There too, it’s about saving lives and protecting our own. (…)./.