A fire engulfed a United Nations warehouse in Guinea that contained medicines and laboratory materials used for the fight against Ebola, causing no casualties but “a regrettable loss” in supplies, which the UN mission there vowed to quickly replace. Officials said an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire, which burned for hours on Thursday.
“This is a regrettable loss, but no one was hurt and we will move quickly together with our partners to replace the lost supplies,” said Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Emergency Ebola Response (UNMEER). “We certainly won’t be deterred in our fight against Ebola.”
UNMEER reported that the fire in the warehouse, mainly containing medicines and laboratory materials, was discovered around 8:00 a.m. local time when workers arrived at facility in the main humanitarian logistics base of the airport and of the city of Conakry, the capital of Guinea – one of the three most affected countries by Ebola in West Africa.
No casualties have been reported, the mission said, adding that the personal protective equipment stored in tents next to the warehouse had not been touched by the fire.
The exact amount of property and material damaged as a result of the fire is not yet known, and an investigation into the fire has just begun, UNMEER said.
The UNMEER warehouse is used by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Red Cross, the World Food Program (WFP), and Pharmacie Centrale de Guinée to store supplies for their Ebola Emergency Response.
The fire in Guinea came just a day ahead of the trip by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who is on his way to West Africa, where he will visit the Ebola-affected countries over the next few days.
Accompanied by the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, as well as his Special Envoy dealing with Ebola response, Dr. David Nabarro, Mr. Ban arrived today in Accra, the capital of Ghana, where he will meet with President John Dramani Mahama and the staff and leadership of UNMEER, which is headquartered there.
The latest statistics released by WHO show that there have been 19,031 reported cases of Ebola, with 7,373 reported deaths.
WHO noted that the number of cases reported cases was fluctuating in Guinea and stable or decreasing in Liberia, but the virus is still spreading rapidly in Sierra Leone. Encouragingly, no new cases have been reported in Mali since November 24, WHO noted.
Meanwhile, UNMEER also reported this week that more than 11,000 households across 15 counties in Liberia were reached through door-to-door visits with Ebola prevention and home protection messages by tens of thousands of women, men and children taking part in the campaign.