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Germany, France to start joint airlift

19 September 2014, 20:31

Berlin - Germany and France agreed on Friday to launch a joint airlift to send aid supplies to western African states hit by Ebola, a spokesman for the German defence ministry said, adding the operation might start within 48 hours.

Germany's armed forces will send up to 100 soldiers to a joint base in Dakar and from there two German Transall military transport planes will fly supplies to affected countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the spokesman said.

"That will enable more than 100 tonnes to be transported per week," he said, adding that France would also provide planes.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her French counterpart agreed on the airlift at a meeting in Paris on Friday. The supplies will include medicines, medical equipment, blankets and tents.

The aim was to improve the logistics chain, so Germany's armed forces will also collect goods from countries like Switzerland, Luxembourg and fly them on to West Africa.

Also read: Ebola lockdown brings Sierra Leone capital to a halt

The defence ministry said there were also plans for the German and French armed forces to each deliver a treatment centre with 50 beds. Germany would send its centre to Liberia while France would supply Guinea with one.

Earlier on Friday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would do all it could to help. "At the moment it's not a question of money, but rather of capacity and logistics and quick implementation," she said in Berlin.

Ebola has infected some 5,357 people in West Africa this year, killing 2,630 of them, in the worst outbreak of the virus yet recorded.

Western nations have pledged in recent days to ramp up their aid effort and the United Nations said on Thursday it would deploy a special mission, calling the outbreak a "threat to international peace and security".

- Reuters


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