EU Humanitarian Air Bridge helps deliver over 50 tonnes of UNICEF supplies for vulnerable children and families
Over the 4 past weeks, UNICEF has been able to send more than 50 tonnes of vital supplies to Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan on board of a total of 8 EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights.
The EU Humanitarian Air Bridge was set up in early May 2020. The purpose is to help countries respond to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the flow of humanitarian aid and workers. The UNICEF cargo included vaccines, medical equipment and other health supplies to help children and families, and to support the countries to keep up essential health services during the pandemic.
“Through its Humanitarian Air Bridge operations, the EU enables humanitarian aid to continue to reach the people most in need. The operations also support the delivery of supplies helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. More than 20 such flights have been operated so far to some of the most vulnerable countries,” said Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management of the European Union.
Despite the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF continued with its work to ensure the distribution and delivery of critical supplies and mitigate the impact of the global lockdowns on children’s lives.
“UNICEF is grateful for the support of the European Union, which is helping to reach children and communities with life-saving supplies,” said Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF supply and procurement headquarters. “Through strong collaboration with governments, business and partners, we can overcome the massive challenges brought on by the pandemic and accelerate efforts to reach every child.”
In mid-March, commercial flight capacity decreased by up to 80 per cent, with considerable rises in freight costs, making it increasingly difficult to ship critical supplies to countries. A recent Lancet study indicated that disruptions in medical supply chains and decline in the use of health services due to the pandemic could lead to an alarming increase in child and maternal deaths across 118 countries.
Last week, vital health supplies arrived in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, with cargo including equipment to fight COVID-19 in country, as well as vital nutrition supplies.
The humanitarian air bridge shipment to Afghanistan included 26 metric tonnes of vaccines, and vaccine-related supplies to protect children from diseases such as polio, pneumonia, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. This is critical in a country where only half of children are fully immunized and routine services have been disrupted by the pandemic.
The shipments to the DRC, where more than 42 per cent of children under the age of five are affected by chronic malnutrition, included supplies to treat child malnutrition along with other essential medical supplies including resuscitation kits, basic surgical equipment, nasal cannulas for the delivery of oxygen, hydrocortisone, antibiotics, vitamin A, and nutrition support. The supplies will be distributed to health centres and hospitals in the DRC.
The Sudan shipment contained medical supplies, nutrition kits and education supplies to support children and families’ vital health needs, mitigate the spread and impacts of COVID-19 and to protect health personnel and essential workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 response across Sudan.
The EU’s Humanitarian Air Bridge is part of the EU’s Global Response to the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to support the humanitarian response in the receiving country to reach the most vulnerable, in a manner that complements the UN system. The service is operated in a Team Europe effort, bringing together the European Commission and its Member States.