Royal Navy, November 26, 2014 - The fliers of 820 Naval Air Squadron stepped in to fly urgent supplies in for the UN’s World Food Programme in the ongoing international effort to stem the tide of the disease.
The tiny community of Kumala on the edge of the Lorna Mountains is just 130 miles from the capital Freetown – but inaccessible to trucks.
A 28-bed care centre is established to look after the people of the Neini chiefdom, including young children.
The staff from the UN agencies – and other non-government organisations such as the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and Oxfam –needed safe accommodation so they could continue the battle against Ebola in the area.
They called on the Merlins – based aboard RFA Argus in Freetown – to fly in five and a half tonnes of equipment.
We’ve flown many missions since deploying to Sierra Leone in support of the UK effort on the ground, but this mission was critical for the people of Kumala, as it is so remote.
Lt Roger Angliss
It took two days and six sorties to deliver the equipment from the WFP’s hub at Port Loko, 100 miles from Kumala, an ensure the care centre could keep on running.
"The UK military assisted with what would have been a major logistical challenge if the building materials had to be moved by road; probably taking weeks, not days," said Mark Warne-Smith of the World Food Programme.
Merlin observer Lt Roger Angliss said of the three dozen sorties the helicopters had flown since arriving in Sierra Leone nearly a month ago, delivering aid to Kumala was among the more unusual.
"We've flown many missions since deploying to Sierra Leone in support of the UK effort on the ground, but this mission was critical for the people of Kumala, as it is so remote," he added.
"Without our help they could have gone weeks without trained healthcare workers to help them fight Ebola and I think I can speak for the whole crew when I say that we are extremely proud of the fact that we could help this small remote community."