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UN Security Council voices concern at health, terrorist threats in West Africa

UNITED NATIONS, July 9 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Wednesday expressed its deep concerns at current health and terrorist threats in some of the West African countries, saying that these challenges should be properly addressed collectively by the international community.

The 15-nation UN body, in a statement issued to the press here, said that it is deeply concerned at the current outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa and the threat posed by the activities of the terrorist group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria and its neighboring countries of Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The council issued the statement after a briefing by the special representative of the UN secretary-general for West Africa, Said Djinnit.

"The Members of the Security Council also expressed their deep concern over the current outbreak of the Ebola virus in some countries in West Africa and conveyed to the international community the need to provide prompt assistance in order to prevent the spread of the virus," the statement said.

Doctors say the Ebola outbreak gripping West Africa could spread to neighbouring countries or even Europe. The epidemic is thought to have begun in Guinea in March, before spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

It is the worst outbreak of the disease on record, according to the World Health Organization, which said that it has infected 779 people and killed 481.

On the terrorist threat in West Africa, the Security Council welcomed the efforts of the special representative of the UN secretary-general for West Africa in his role as the secretary- general's high-level representative to Nigeria, facilitating United Nations support for the ongoing efforts towards the safe release of the schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, as well as for wider assistance to address the threat of Boko Haram.

Boko Haram is Nigeria's militant Islamist group, which has caused havoc in Africa's most populous country through a wave of bombings, assassinations and now abductions. It is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.

Its followers are said to be influenced by the Koranic phrase which says "Anyone who is not governed by what Allah has revealed is among the transgressors."

Boko Haram promotes a version of Islam which makes it "haram," or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society.

Meanwhile, the Security Council also "expressed concern over challenges in the sub-region, including transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, terrorism, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and cross-border security challenges in the Sahel and the Mano River Basin," the statement said.

"They stressed that these challenges pose a threat to the peace, stability and progress of the sub-region and beyond and could be addressed through multilateral cooperation among the member states, " it added.

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