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Countries blowing off urgent U.N. request for Ebola funds

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 16: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a press conference on his visit to Gaza and Ebola virus, in United Nations headquarters in New York, United States on October 16, 2014. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Four weeks after the United Nations made a request for $1 billion to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the U.N. has collected only 38 percent of that amount from member nations, and is warning that the shortfall is hurting efforts to fight the deadly virus.

"It's time that those other countries who really have capacity, (that) they would provide financial support and other logistical support," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday, according to a Reuters report.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is warning that countries need to step up their financial commitment to fight Ebola. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

In mid-September, the U.N. said it would need $988 million to fight the Ebola crisis in West Africa. But as of Friday, the U.N. had just $378 million, or about 38 percent of the request. Another $217 million has been pledged, but has not yet been collected.

Normally, countries would donate aid to a specific part of the U.N.'s response. A U.N. official told TheBlaze that in order to help speed up the donation process, Secretary Ban set up a separate fund allowing countries to make general donations to the effort, after which the U.N. would assign how the money is used.

But as of Friday, only $20 million had been pledged to this account, and only $100,000 had been collected, from Colombia. Even if all the pledged aid is added up, it totals $615 million, less than two-thirds of the $988 million the U.N. has requested.

The U.N. official said the lack of available funds is seriously hamstringing efforts to pick up the pace in the fight against Ebola. "Any funds not coming in are impeding the effort," he said.

On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated his call for countries to quickly donate money to the effort. In addition to cash, Kerry said trucks, helicopters, mobile labs, incinerators and other equipment to deal with the outbreak.

"Right now we know that this is a time for nothing less than brutal honesty with each other about what we need, in both the capabilities that we need in order to meet this crisis… and the kinds of cash contributions, yes, cash contributions, that we need to fund these efforts for the months to come," Kerry said at the State Department Friday.

Kerry agreed that the U.N. has "barely a third" of what it needs to fight Ebola, and warned that failing to contribute would mean a much longer fight against the virus.

"If we don't adequately address this current outbreak now, then Ebola has the potential to become a scourge like HIV or polio, and we will end up fighting, all of us, for decades," he said. "Winning this fight is going to be costly. It is going to take all of our efforts, and it is not risk free."

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