The U.N. Security Council on Thursday adopted a resolution declaring the Ebola outbreak a threat to world peace and security, and calling on countries to provide urgent aid.
The resolution was adopted unanimously after U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that the number of Ebola infections was doubling every three weeks, in particular in Liberia.
The council heard a desperate appeal from Liberian medical aid worker Jackson Naimah for assistance to beat back the epidemic that has left about 2,600 dead and over 5,000 others severely ill in West Africa.
"Please send your helicopters, your centers, your beds and your expert personnel," said Naimah, speaking on video link from Monrovia.
"We do not have the capacity to respond to this crisis. If the international community does not stand up, we will be wiped out."
In its resolution, the council declared that the "unprecedented extent of the Ebola outbreak in Africa constitutes a threat to international peace and security" and warned that "peacebuilding gains... could be reversed" in West Africa.
It called on countries to "provide urgent assistance, including deployable medical capabilities such as field hospitals" with staff and supplies, laboratories, clinics and to provide "support capabilities for airlift."
The measure also urged nations to lift travel and border restrictions, and asked airlines and shipping companies to maintain their links with affected countries.
It was only the third resolution adopted by the top world body on a public health emergency in the history of the United Nations. The council voted on measures to address the AIDS pandemic in 2000 and 2011.
The United Nations has set a goal of stopping the spread of Ebola within six to nine months and is appealing for nearly $1 billion to buy supplies for West Africa.
Ban announced plans to set up a new U.N. mission to combat Ebola, with its headquarters in West Africa.
"Our best estimate is that we need a 20-fold increase in assistance," said Ban.
An "Ebola summit" is due to be held next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to further mobilize aid and resources to fight the disease.
Security Council: Ebola threatens world peace