SUVA, Fiji – On 26 April, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) flew vital medical supplies to Kiribati via the Pacific Humanitarian Air Service, which WFP manages on behalf of the humanitarian community. This air delivery demonstrates WFP’s continued support to the COVID-19 response in the region.
On 22 April, the Government of Kiribati raised an urgent request for intravenous (IV) fluids which was about to run out in its hospitals. WFP responded immediately – together with the Australian Government who procured 6 metric tonnes of IV fluid within 24 hours. The supplies were delivered by WFP to Tarawa via Nadi using WFP’s humanitarian flight, along with medical supplies from UNICEF and WHO.
“Like elsewhere in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges for the Pacific nations, causing major supply chain disruptions that have not only affected day-to-day life but also the pandemic response,” said Cynthia Jones, Director a.i. of WFP’s Office in the Pacific.
“With our humanitarian air service, we are able to quickly get essential supplies and personnel to where they are needed most, meeting the needs of the Pacific Island states in containing the pandemic,” she added.
“The Government of Kiribati thank WFP for its continued support to our COVID response in Kiribati and in the region. We are particularly grateful for the collaboration between WFP, its partners and the Kiribati authorities in bridging the logistical gaps left by COVID-19 through the utilization of the humanitarian air service,” said Michael Foon, , Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Kiribati.
WFP’s Pacific humanitarian air service is a part of the greater Pacific Humanitarian Team’s COVID-19 Response Plan – a comprehensive regional response plan that seeks to consolidate efforts by UN agencies, governments, regional and multilateral organizations, NGOs, donors and development partners.
With generous funding from the Government of Australia and USAID, WFP has so far run 23 flights, transporting a total of 179 metric tonnes of vital medical cargo.