Ebola aid supplies on board Karel Doorman

Today the first Ebola aid supplies will be loaded onto the naval ship Karel Doorman, leaving for West Africa tomorrow. Goods will start to come aboard at around midday, including 11 million rubber gloves, a significant number of lorries, ambulances and other vehicles, 1,000 rubber boots, disinfectant, thermometers, generators, mobile laboratories, protective clothing for medical staff and more than 300,000 medical masks for relief workers.

Providing goods in such large quantities can really make a difference, believes development minister Lilianne Ploumen. ‘Relief workers desperately need this aid to help them stem the outbreak,’ said Ms Ploumen, who arranged for the Karel Doorman’s deployment in conjunction with defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert. The EU is also involved in the transport operation.

The Netherlands has contributed more than €5 million in aid supplies to the Karel Doorman operation. The goods on board have not only been provided by the Netherlands, but by eight other EU member states as well: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and the United Kingdom.

The ship will take two weeks to travel to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia via the United Kingdom and Senegal. The first supplies are expected to reach Ebola-affected regions around 20 November.

‘We have made agreements with the local authorities and aid organisations so aid gets to patients quickly,’ said Ms Ploumen. ‘The Netherlands’ Special Envoy for Ebola is in the region to confirm these agreements on the ground.’

Ms Ploumen recently appointed diplomat Hans Docter as the Netherlands’ Special Envoy for Ebola. ‘Mr Docter is seeing a little progress in Liberia, where aid is being delivered and coordinated well,’ she commented. Things are not as encouraging in Guinea, however. ‘The Guinean authorities still face a formidable challenge combating the outbreak. We will, of course, assist where possible, for instance by helping to coordinate aid more effectively,’ remarked Ms Ploumen.

Mr Docter will travel to Sierra Leone at a later date.