European Union helps keep humanitarian flights in West and Central Africa skies as humanitarian needs soar

WFP
Landing at Mbera Camp - WFP
Landing at Mbera Camp -WFP
ROME – A timely US$ 3.5 million contribution from the European Union has helped the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) transport thousands of aid workers to several hard-to-reach locations across West and Central Africa, the World Food Programme said today.

The EU’s contribution for 2021, made through the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO), helped UNHAS to support a regional approach to its services, enabling over 60,000 aid workers reach 66 remote locations in Mauritania, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, and Niger throughout the year at a time when humanitarian needs worsened.

“We are very grateful to the European Union and all donor partners for their contributions at a time when UNHAS faced unprecedented funding shortages,” says Philippe Martou, WFP’s Chief of Aviation. “UNHAS provides vital support to humanitarian workers across the region to reach populations in need.”

The West and Central Africa region faces several challenges including displacement, natural hazards, structural poverty and chronic food insecurity that is worsened by the fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic.

While international donors such as the EU stepped up and contributed to the continuation of critical humanitarian air services, UNHAS continues to face critical financial challenges. It is vital that UNHAS has adequate resources in 2022 to keep providing essential services to the humanitarian community.

Established in 2003, the WFP-managed UNHAS is a common service for the entire humanitarian community, operational where viable air options do not exist. The service currently runs in 22 operations and transports up-to 400,000 passengers across over 300 regular destinations each year using a diversified fleet of fixed-winged aircraft and helicopters. In addition to regular services, UNHAS also performs medical evacuations and security relocations upon request.

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