The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a threat to international peace and security that demands urgent resources, the United Nations Security Council has declared.

The UN body voted unanimously on Thursday to call on countries to provide assistance for the crisis.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced he’s establishing a UN emergency mission to fight Ebola.

The UN head noted that Ebola cases are doubling every three weeks and called for aid totalling nearly $1 billion US to fight the outbreak over six months.

The council also called on states to lift travel bans and restrictions on Ebola-affected countries, such as Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Earlier this week, U.S. President Barack Obama called Ebola a national security priority that demands fast action.

Ban thanked Obama for sending 3,000 troops to offer training and engineering assistance in the outbreak and listed about 20 other countries that have responded.

"This is a social crisis, a humanitarian crisis, an economic crisis, and a threat to national security well beyond the outbreak zones," WHO Director General Margaret Chan told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

In some areas, such as Liberia's breadbasket, hunger has become an even greater concern than the virus, said Chan.

700 new cases 

The WHO said that more than 700 more Ebola cases emerged in West Africa in one week, which suggests the outbreak is accelerating. The Ebola virus has made more than 5,300 people sick, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and killed more than 2,600.

"We are trying to treat as many people as we can, but there are not nearly enough treatment centres and patient beds," Jackson Naimah of Doctors Without Borders said in the text of a statement to the council. "We have to turn people away. And they are dying at our front door.

'People are … literally begging for their lives.' - Jackson Naimah, Doctors Without Borders

"Right now, as I speak, people are sitting at the gates of our centres, literally begging for their lives. They rightly feel alone, neglected, denied — left to die a horrible, undignified death. We are failing the sick because there is not enough help on the ground. And we are failing those who will inevitably become infected, because we cannot care properly for the sick in safe, protected environments and prevent the spread of the virus," he added. 

Elsewhere on Thursday, people in Sierra Leone are being told to stay inside for three days as part of a lockdown to control the Ebola outbreak, but a medical aid agency has warned the move could exacerbate the spread of the disease.

Doctors Without Borders has warned that expertise is needed to conduct door-to-door screening and there’s a lack of Ebola treatment centres to manage potential patients who are identified.

With files from Reuters and The Associated Press