Ebola causes postponement of mega India-Africa meet

Ebola causes postponement of mega India-Africa meet

The Ebola outbreak in Africa that has claimed nearly 2,500 lives so far has claimed a different kind of victim in India - the Third India-Africa Forum Summit that was scheduled for December in Gurgaon. The mega event has been postponed and will be held in 2015.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said India has informed the African Union countries about "deferring for the present" the summit that was expected to see all the 54 countries of the African Union being represented for the first time.

He said fresh dates in 2015 were to be worked out in consultation with the African countries. He said the summit was to have all the African heads of state attending for the first time, as well as businesspersons and the media.

In view of the Ebola outbreak in Africa and keeping in mind the "logistical difficulties" of following the strict hygiene security that would required to be followed among the hundreds of delegates attending, the Indian government decided to postpone the event till next year.

During the previous two summits, in 2008 and in 2011, around 12-15 countries, in representative selection by the African Union, participated in the summit. But for the Dec 4 summit, all the 54 countries of the continent were invited in what was planned to be one of the biggest such international gatherings in India in recent years.

The UN has urged for $1 billion funds to fight the West Africa Ebola outbreak, which it has termed a health crisis "unparalleled in modern times". The virus has infected nearly 5,000 people so far, with about half of those infected dying.

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