BERLIN -- Germany's defence minister is asking for volunteers from the country's military to staff a clinic it plans to set up in West Africa, where the deadly Ebola disease has claimed more than 2,600 lives.

In a memo circulated Monday, Ursula von der Leyen appealed to soldiers and civilian employees to "voluntarily make yourselves available for this unusual mission."

Von der Leyen assured potential volunteers that they would be properly trained and compensated, and "in case of emergency you can rely on being brought back to Germany."

She did not say how many people would be needed to staff the foreseen 50-bed clinic.

The 3,000 soldiers the United States is sending to West Africa to help set up treatment centres and train local physicians are not volunteers, they are being deployed.