Hans Docter appointed Special Envoy for Ebola

Development minister Lilianne Ploumen this morning appointed diplomat Hans Docter as the Netherlands’ Special Envoy for Ebola. Mr Docter is currently the Dutch ambassador to Ghana, also covering Liberia and Sierra Leone from the embassy in Accra. ‘Hans Doctor’s wide-ranging experience in Africa and his detailed knowledge of the region where the Ebola outbreak is concentrated make him a perfect candidate for this role,’ said Ms Ploumen. ‘And he has proved himself in earlier crises.’

As Special Envoy, Mr Docter, who is 48, will advise the government on the international response to the Ebola crisis. He will remain in permanent contact with the UN and EU Ebola crisis teams (at WHO and other organisations), as well as with other aid agencies and other countries. He will also advise authorities and aid organisations in the three countries worst affected by the Ebola outbreak. As the Netherlands’ highest-ranking representative in the region, Mr Docter benefits from an excellent contact network in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The same is true for his embassy staff, many of whom have regularly lived and worked in these countries.

‘The Ebola outbreak requires someone close at hand acting on the Netherlands’ behalf,’ stated Ms Ploumen. ‘This person needs to follow developments on the ground and propose ways of limiting the outbreak’s impact as much as possible. This has to be done both in the three worst hit countries and elsewhere.’

This summer, Mr Docter temporarily served as diplomatic project planner in the aftermath of the MH17 disaster, coordinating Dutch efforts in eastern Ukraine. His primary task was to ensure the most rapid possible recovery and repatriation of the victims’ remains, and Mr Docter later described this as ‘the most emotionally testing work I had ever done during my time as a diplomat,’ adding: “It was crucial for me to stay calm and continue to communicate with all parties in order to get the victims returned home.’

In his role as Special Envoy for Ebola – which he will combine with his ambassadorship in Ghana – Mr Docter will support all Dutch ministers’ contributions to the international efforts to contain the outbreak. Germany has also appointed a special envoy for Ebola.