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Ebola crisis may affect economy in broader West African region -- UN food agency

The deadly Ebola virus spreading throughout West Africa may affect agriculture and economy of the whole region, the chief of UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in an interview with TASS published on Tuesday.

"The areas with high incidence of the Ebola virus in West Africa are among the most agriculturally productive regions of the three affected countries -- Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Fear of contagion and movement restrictions have kept some farmers away from attending their fields. Both cash and food crop production have suffered from the impact of the disease," FAO's Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said.

The Ebola crisis also poses a serious risk to food security amid the possible lack of food supplies, he said. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are net cereal importers. For example, in Liberia over 60% of the rice is imported.

"FAO is urgently appealing to donors for $30 million to protect food security and safeguard the livelihoods of tens of thousands of rural families threatened by this unprecedented outbreak of Ebola. There is the risk that without these interventions, the Ebola crisis will have a detrimental, long-term impact on food and nutritional security in the broader West Africa region," the FAO chief said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a report last week that the death toll from the Ebola virus outbreak stands at 5,177, and 14,413 people have been infected.

The Ebola virus can be transmitted from person to person through a direct contact (through injured skin or mucous membranes) or with objects contaminated with the virus. The Ebola virus disease, previously known as the Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe illness in humans, often fatal, according to the WHO.

[Source: Itar Tass, Rome, 18Nov14]

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