On 9 January Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement on the occasion of the visit of the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management and EU Coordinator for Ebola, Christos Stylianides, to Berlin and Germany’s announcement of its intention to make available the Medevac Airbus “Robert Koch” for the EU pool:
The provision of the Medevac Airbus is a concrete step towards implementing our EU “white helmets” initiative, which we launched with France in November. Our goal is to strengthen the capabilities of the EU and its member states so that in future we can respond efficiently and rapidly to international epidemics. With the German Airbus “Robert Koch” we want to ensure that European and international helpers who, at considerable personal risk, are prepared to treat infected persons on the ground and fight the spread of the virus, can be evacuated quickly if they contract the disease. Germany’s provision of this radically new aircraft at short notice demonstrates the technological capabilities and political will Europe has to confront the challenge posed by the Ebola crisis.
At Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s initiative the EU and its member states are currently working in Brussels to establish a pool of medical and logistical experts – so‑called “white helmets”. The aim of the pool is to enable the EU member states in future to respond effectively to international epidemics with joint, coordinated and rapid action and especially to keep the time between the outbreak of a disease and the deployment of experts as short as possible. Germany is now making available the evacuation aircraft “Robert Koch”, a converted Lufthansa Airbus which Foreign Minister Steinmeier unveiled to the public on 27 November 2014 in Berlin-Tegel, to the EU partners for the “white helmets” pool. This is an important contribution to the progress of the “white helmets” initiative. The Medevac Airbus is already part of the comprehensive measures taken by Germany to fight Ebola. This aircraft provides an “airborne special isolation unit” with the highest security standards, enabling the professional treatment and evacuation of highly infectious, life-threateningly ill patients.