"This is Africa": Stowaways caught on Navy ebola mission
Three stowaways managed to hide on the Karel Doorman, the largest ship of the Royal Marines. "I was speechless", says the commander of the ship. "This is Africa."
The crew of the Karel Doorman did everything in their power to safely complete the Ebola mission to West Africa. During the past two months the marine vessel successfully delivered large amounts of relief supplies to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Libera. Numerous safeguards were set to ensure that the crew is not infected with the deadly virus. Though the safeguards managed to prevent Ebola from boarding the ship, they could not keep three stowaways from Senegal out. The crew made the strange discovery during a routine check after a stopover in Dakar.
"My first reaction? Disbelief!" said Commander Peter van den Berg from the ship, which is now on its way to Den Helder. "This is rare on naval ships. It's obviously a blemish on the mission. Apparently our controls were not sufficient to exclude this." According to the Commander, the three men took a huge risk. "They apparently climbed a rope that was stretched from the shore more than 10 meters to the railing." Van den Berg said. "How did they manage it? We do not know exactly, I just know that the port was very busy at departure. We have all kinds of measures that should have prevented this. Possibly the local guards are less reliable than you may expect. This is Africa."
The Commander said that the men were in a horrid state. "They were ill-fed, ill-clothed. They were desperate. I have not spoken to them - my French isn't very good. But apparently their situation is so miserable that they were willing to take the risk."
The stowaways were immediately tested for Ebola, but they do not appear to be infected. They are currently under surveillance on the ship. They were given food and clothing and will be transferred to the marechaussee (military police) in Den Helder. Presumably they will be deported.
Despite this incident, Van den Berg continues to be proud of the mission, the first with the Karel Doorman. "We hear that the fight against Ebola is slowly being won, the number of infections is decreasing. That is wonderful and I am very pleased that we have made a contribution to that."