Greens Senator uses Africa visit to lobby for more Ebola aid funding

Senator Di Natale says he wants to draw upon his on-the-ground experiences to lobby Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to provide more Australian aid to Ebola-affected countries.

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Australia has so far contributed $42 million to the international fight against the virus which has claimed over 6,000 lives since the outbreak began last July.

But Senator Di Natale said many hospitals he visited in Africa are struggling to cope and Australia should be contributing more to the aid effort.

“In the past we’ve been recognised for being world leaders when it comes to contributing to humanitarian crises,” Senator Di Natale said.

“I think most African nations now feel that our response when it comes to Ebola has been too slow”, he said.

“It’s been far too modest in terms of the contribution we’ve made and in some areas, it’s been counter-productive, particularly in the area of travel restrictions,” he said.

Post by Senator Richard Di Natale.

In October, the federal government implemented restrictions on the entry of West Africans into Australia and Senator Di Natale said the restrictions have sent the wrong message.

“What’s needed here are people on the ground and the idea that they should be restricting people movements is not helpful”, he said.  

Senator Di Natale has met with Liberia’s Vice President Joseph Boakai who wanted to pass on his gratitude to Australia for its aid contribution.

The Greens Senator said he would also be visiting Sierra Leone- one of the worst affected countries by the Ebola epidemic.

” The outbreak is still raging out of control there and it shows now signs of abating,” Senator Di Natale said.

“You’ve got to remember that these are countries ranked right at the bottom of the human development index with a very poor capacity to respond”, he added.

Senator Di Natale said he now wants to draw upon his experiences to lobby for more aid funding for Ebola-affected countries.

“What I hope to do is to be able to lobby directly through talks with the Foreign Minister if she is prepared to meet with me”, he said.

“We really need to increase our contribution to the international effort . Hospitals are closed and people are now dying from preventable, treatable conditions because they just can’t get access to healthcare.”

Interactive map by Kenneth Macleod