The first UN “solidarity flight” is scheduled to leave Ethiopia shortly to bring medical supplies and protective equipment to boost COVID-19 response on the African continent, said a UN spokesman on Tuesday.
The flight is part of a UN initiative to scale up the logistics to facilitate the procurement and distribution of pandemic response supplies, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Working with the government of Ethiopia, the World Food Programme (WFP) has opened up a new hub inside Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. From there, supplies and equipment and humanitarian workers will be transported by air across Ethiopia and Africa. Medical evacuations will also be facilitated, Dujarric told a virtual press briefing.
A team of 25 WFP aviation and logistics staff are now based at the airport to manage the operations 24 hours a day, he said.
A first cargo flight, coming from another humanitarian logistics hub in the United Arab Emirates, landed in Addis Ababa on Monday. The plane was loaded with supplies from the World Health Organization that are now being prepared for distribution to 32 African countries, he said.
These flights are a result of Guterres’ work to mobilize the world body’s global supply chain in support of global efforts to fight the pandemic.
The Addis Ababa-based African Union, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, is providing technical support and coordination for the distribution of these supplies, said Dujarric.
The WFP is calling for 350 million U.S. dollars to support common aviation, shipping, storage and transport, as well as engineering services in areas affected by the pandemic, he said. Enditem