It’s been two years since Cyclone Idai ravaged central Mozambique, leaving destroyed lives and struggling communities in its wake. Since then, the vulnerable country has faced ongoing conflict, contested elections, drought and more devastating weather. 

Then, Cyclone Eloise made landfall in January of 2021,  destroying vital infrastructure and thousands of homes, dealing another devastating blow to families still trying to put their lives together after Cyclone Idai. In the north of the country, nearly 1 million people are facing a hunger crisis driven by violence, ongoing attacks from  climate shocks and skyrocketing food prices.

Here’s a look back at our story of recovery post-Idai, one year after the storm:  

BEIRA/JOHANNESBURG – A year after Cyclone Idai devastated much of central Mozambique, limited funding for essential reconstruction is preventing many of the hardest-hit people from getting back on their feet, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

In the weeks after the strongest storm to ever hit the country, the U.N. World Food Programme’s emergency assistance kick-started the recovery of 1.8 million people. But many others, who are still struggling today, face a bleak and uncertain future.

Last month, funding shortfalls forced the U.N. World Food Programme to halve food rations for 525,000 people working on post-Idai recovery projects in the province of Sofala, the most damaged by the cyclone. This month, that vital support will be halted completely unless the U.N. World Food Programme receives funds soon.

“For people who had their lives turned upside down, our projects – community farms, road and bridge repair, the rebuilding of schools – are a source of hope,” said Lola Castro, the U.N. World Food Programme’s Regional Director for Southern Africa. “This essential work must continue if we want to see real and lasting recovery,” Castro added.

The upcoming April-May harvest is expected to be relatively good in the region. However, few of the 250,000 families whose homes were damaged by the cyclone have been able to return to their villages, let alone rebuild.

The U.N. World Food Programme needs $91 million to be able to fully implement rehabilitation projects for Idai victims this year.

Many are subsistence farmers whose crops were wiped out last year and who were unable to replant in time for this year. Most are enduring “crisis” or “emergency” levels of food insecurity, meaning they do not eat enough, borrow what they can from relatives or friends, forage for less-than-nourishing wild foods, and continue to need outside help to survive.

Mozambique has one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in the world – afflicting 43 percent of children under five – while acute malnutrition is on the rise among Idai-affected communities. A rare outbreak of Pellagra, a disease triggered by Vitamin B3 deficiency, has sickened almost 4,000 people in Sofala, with the numbers increasing rapidly.

Given the country’s heavy dependence on rain-fed, small-scale farming and its vulnerability to climate change – as underscored by Cyclone Kenneth causing widespread devastation just six weeks after Idai – significantly more investment is needed in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

“Boosting Mozambicans’ ability to withstand the impacts of increasingly severe drought and flooding was the core of our work before the cyclones struck,” said Castro. “It’s what we must resume now, and, with partners, step up in the coming years.”

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The U.N. World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_Africa

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org): Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202 653 1149

ROME – Hunger in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua has increased almost fourfold over the past two years – from 2.2 million people in 2018 to close to 8 million people in 2021 – a result of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and years of extreme climate events. Of this figure, 1.7 million people are in the ‘Emergency’ category of food insecurity and require urgent food assistance.

“Considering the level of destruction and setbacks faced by those affected, we expect this to be a long and slow recovery,” said Miguel Barreto, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “2020 was a year to forget across the world, and even more so for communities in Central America that were dealt a series of blows.”

With homes and farms destroyed, food stocks running low and job opportunities shrinking, nearly 15 percent of people surveyed by the U.N. World Food Programme in January 2021 said that they were making concrete plans to migrate. In a 2018 post-drought assessment only eight percent of respondents indicated they were planning to migrate.

The record 2020 Atlantic hurricane season dealt a severe blow to millions who were previously relatively untouched by hunger, among them people dependent on the service economy, tourism and informal jobs. Hurricanes Eta and Iota that struck Central America in November 2020 upended the lives of 6.8 million people who lost their homes and livelihoods.

The hurricanes destroyed about 500,000 acres of staple food and cash crops in the four countries and around 25,000 acres of coffee farmland in Honduras and Nicaragua. The hurricanes struck as these communities were already dealing with job losses and a shrinking economy, a fallout of COVID-19.

The U.N. World Food Programme surveys estimate that food security in Central America nosedived as a result of COVID-19. The number of households that did not have enough to eat during COVID-19 nearly doubled in Guatemala compared to pre-pandemic numbers. In Honduras, it increased by more than 50 percent. An overwhelming majority of households in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador reported income losses or unemployment during the pandemic.

“Urban and rural communities in Central America have hit rock bottom. The COVID-19-induced economic crisis had already put food on the market shelves out of reach for the most vulnerable people when the twin hurricanes Eta and Iota battered them further,” said Barreto. “Many now have nowhere to live and are staying in temporary shelters, surviving on next to nothing.”

Communities in Central America have borne the brunt of a climate emergency, where consecutive years of drought and erratic weather have disrupted food production – especially staples like maize and beans, which depend heavily on regular rainfall.

The U.N. World Food Programme calls on the international community to support its efforts in Central America to provide urgent humanitarian assistance and to invest in long-term development projects and national social protection programs that help vulnerable communities withstand recurrent weather extremes and economic shocks.

The U.N. World Food Programme plans to assist 2.6 million people in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua in 2021 and requires $47.3 million over the next six months.

Broadcast quality content with shot list can be found here.
High resolution photos can be found here.

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The U.N. World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA; @wfp_media; @wfp_es

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):
Shaza Moghraby, WFP/New York, Mob. + 1 929 289 9867
Steve Taravella, WFP/ Washington, Mob. +1 202 770 5993

ROME – The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), a critical lifeline transporting humanitarian workers and lifesaving cargo to some of the most challenging and hard-to-reach locations, urgently requires $204 million to continue existing operations beyond February 2021.

Disruptions in UNHAS operations have the potential to impact major humanitarian operations including those in Yemen, the Syrian Arab Republic and Haiti, where conditions continue to worsen due to ongoing conflict and the impact of COVID-19.

“UNHAS is, in most cases, the only way that humanitarian organizations can reach people in need, particularly in countries with ongoing conflict and where access by road or sea is not feasible,” says Amir Abdulla, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, which manages the service. “The disruption of UNHAS operations would cripple the ability of the entire humanitarian community to reach some of the most in need people on the planet.”

UNHAS has not only ensured humanitarian workers and cargo were able to safely reach people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, but has also played an important role in national responses to the pandemic, transporting test samples and critical medical supplies on behalf of governments in many of the countries in which the service operates.

UNHAS, was established in 2004 to serve the humanitarian community where safe and reliable commercial air transport is not available. The service currently runs 21 operations and carries up to 400,000 passengers every year to over 400 destinations via a fleet of aircraft and helicopters. UNHAS, on top of regular passenger and light cargo transport, also performs crucial medical and security evacuations.

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA @wfp_media and @wfp_logistics

For more information please contact:

Eleonora Ponti, WFP/Rome, Tel.+39 342 993 2998, eleonora.ponti@wfp.org
Alicia Stafford, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 342 771 9577, alicia.stafford@wfp.org

BEIRUT – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) started this week, in close partnership with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE), distributing the first round of food assistance for vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugee schoolchildren and their families across Lebanon.

The food parcels replace traditional in-school meals children would otherwise be receiving as part of the U.N. World Food Programme’s nation-wide program and as schools remain closed.

Due to the deterioration of the economic situation in Lebanon, the U.N. World Food Programme expanded its school feeding program for the 2020-2021 academic year to reach 50,000 students in 81 schools – an increase by about 20,000 children compared to the last academic year. Distributions will include all students benefiting from the U.N. World Food Programme’s school feeding program, even if their families were receiving other forms of assistance through the U.N. World Food Programme.

“In these difficult times the country is going through, the most vulnerable are the first to suffer. When families have less money for food and other necessities they tend to think of other alternatives that could include sending children to work,” said Country Director and Representative of the U.N. World Food Programme in Lebanon, Abdallah Al-Wardat.

“By adapting our school feeding to COVID-19 restrictions, we are ensuring that children continue to get an education even remotely, that they are getting enough food and at the same time we are freeing up a family’s limited income so they can afford rent, medicine and other necessities.”

Families were invited to send one representative to collect the parcels in order to avoid crowding and ensure all COVID-19 safety measures are respected. The food parcel covers 40 percent of the daily food needs of a family of five for one month. It includes rice, pasta, grains, lentils, beans, sunflower oil, sugar and salt. Carrying out the distributions are the U.N. World Food Programme’s cooperating partners, the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and Development, Culture, Leadership (DCL) with full implementation of the necessary COVID-19 precautionary and safety measures.

“Lebanon’s multiple crises have affected thousands of families’ access to nutritious food,” said Director of Guidance and Counselling at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education Hilda Khoury. “This partnership with the U.N. World Food Programme is protecting children and helping families cope with the impact of the crises by sending food to their homes as learning modalities continue to change and adapt.”

This distribution was funded by the governments of Italy, Canada and Ireland and aims to help the most vulnerable school children and their families meet their food needs while preserving the linkages between families and schools to minimize dropouts once schools reopen. During this critical period, in addition to providing a shock-responsive safety net through distribution of family food parcels, the U.N. World Food Programme has rehabilitated six school kitchens to provide fresh meals to 5,000 children attending public schools once schools resume.

In June and July this year and following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures, the U.N. World Food Programme distributed food parcels to 13,000 of the most vulnerable school children who benefit of our school feeding program and their families.

U.N. World Food Programme Lebanon has been distributing locally produced snacks to vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian children attending public schools operating on a double-shift system since 2016.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change. | Follow us on Twitter @WPFUSA and @WFPLebanon

For more information, contact:

  • Reem Nada, WFP/Beirut, Mob. +2010 6663 4522, reem.nada@wfp.org
  • Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Mob. +2010 6663 4352, abeer.etefa@wfp.org

Lilongwe, Malawi – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomes a generous contribution of $10.3 million from the United States Government, through USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), to provide emergency assistance to vulnerable households and support the livelihoods of communities in Malawi.

The U.N. World Food Programme will use part of this contribution ($7 million) to support 85,000 food-insecure households in the districts of Balaka, Chikwawa, Machinga, Mangochi, Nsanje, Phalombe, and Zomba through the construction or rehabilitation of assets that strengthen their resilience to climatic shocks. USAID/BHA has been supporting the U.N. World Food Programme’s Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) programming since 2017. This new contribution will enable targeted households to create productive community assets, such as fish farming ponds, micro-irrigation schemes, and flood-control dykes, among others, while they receive cash transfers to cover immediate food needs.

The contribution ($3 million) will also enable emergency food assistance to food-insecure households in the country. The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC), a government-led committee tasked with providing timely early warning information on food insecurity, estimates that 2.6 million people, nearly 15 percent of the country’s population, will face acute food insecurity during the 2020/2021 Lean Season. USAID/BHA contributions ($350,000) will also support MVAC functions in the coming months.

“The U.S. Government continues to help the people of Malawi avert hunger, build their resilience and improve their food security. We appreciate the U.S. Government’s support for our efforts to help break the cycle of hunger in Malawi,” says Benoit Thiry, U.N. World Food Programme Malawi Country Director.

“The increasing risk of climatic shocks to poor, rural households worsens their hunger situation. The U.S. Government has partnered with the U.N. World Food Programme to help poor households mitigate, manage, and endure the impacts of such shocks,” says Catie Lott, Mission Director for USAID/Malawi.

The U.S. is one of the largest donors to the U.N. World Food Programme in Malawi, contributing $46.9 million since 2017 to emergency response, support for refugees, and efforts to break the cycle of hunger. The U.N. World Food Programme is supporting the Government of Malawi through a range of programs, including emergency food assistance and cash-based transfers, nutritional support, and resilience-building.

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About the U.N. World Food Programme | The U.N. World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change. Our efforts focus on responding to emergencies while strengthening the Government’s social protection system; preventing chronic malnutrition; providing locally produced school meals; and building resilience of rural communities to be more self-reliant and equipped to face climatic shocks.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA @wfp_media @wfp_Malawi

Read more about the U.N. World Food Programme’s resilience program here.

About USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) | Helping people affected by disasters and other humanitarian emergencies is at the core of what USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) does every day, all over the world. It reflects our values as Americans, demonstrates our global leadership, and makes the world a safer place. BHA leads and coordinates the U.S. Government’s disaster assistance efforts overseas. We also support food insecure refugees fleeing war, violence, or persecution.

Read more about BHA here.

WASHINGTON, DC (November 16, 2020) – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), in coordination with the government of Nicaragua, is preparing for a coordinated response to Hurricane Iota, which is forecast to hit Nicaragua as a Category 5 hurricane tonight, November 16. This new storm follows closely on the heels of Hurricane Eta, which affected millions of people on Nicaragua’s northeast coast, before continuing its destructive path through Central America and parts of the Caribbean. In Nicaragua, some 80,000 families are at risk, including in areas that were flooded by river overflow from Hurricane Eta.

A deadly, record-setting 2020 hurricane season in the Atlantic, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, has left a trail of devastation across Central American and the Caribbean, deepening hunger in communities already hard hit by years of prolonged drought and economic instability.

“The arrival of this new storm, when the population of the North Caribbean is just beginning to rise from the blow of Hurricane Eta, will have a strong impact. We are again in preparation as we continue to provide aid for families already affected. All the investment that can be made before the arrival of an event of this type is very valuable because it can save lives and provide a more efficient and faster response,” said Giorgia Testolin, U.N. World Food Programme’s Representative in Nicaragua.

The U.N. World Food Programme is reinforcing the technical teams that had been deployed to Nicaragua in anticipation of Hurricane Eta, in preparation for Iota. They are working to strengthen logistics, telecommunications and food security capacities in the three previously hardest hit municipalities, and where it is estimated that this new storm will cause the greatest impact.

The U.N. World Food Programme has shipped 275 metric tons of rice, beans and vegetable oil to the North Caribbean coast. Of these, 91 metric tons have been distributed to the population. Having food reserves in places where the hurricane is expected to hit is vital to the care of affected populations.

In addition, the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) in Panama has prepositioned non-food items—mobile storage units, generators, prefab offices, health kits, tents and more—that can be airlifted within 72 hours of a disaster in the region.

The U.N. World Food Programme also supports response efforts by providing drinking water and containers for storage, since many water sources have been affected by the floods. It has also provided fuel and motor oil for local authorities to mobilize boats to affected communities, as well as bio-protection equipment, such as surgical masks and alcohol for shelters. These items complement food packages and other resources provided by the Nicaraguan government.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change. | Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA @wfp_media and @unmigration

ROME – With much of the world’s commercial transport systems, particularly airlines, grounded by COVID-19, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) – the world’s largest humanitarian organization fighting hunger and a global leader in logistics – has stepped in to move passengers and huge volumes of health and other supplies needed in the fight against the pandemic.

Just as demand for this service is reaching its peak, it could grind to a halt before the end of July unless substantial funding can be secured to keep the U.N. World Food Programme’s transport fleet moving. Of the $965 million needed to maintain the operation through to the end of the year, only $178 million has so far been confirmed or advanced.

Here’s what Common Services have achieved so far:

  • 375 passenger and cargo flights flown to destinations across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East
  • More than 2,500 responders from more than 80 aid organizations flown to destinations where their assistance is urgently needed
  • 45 humanitarian partner organizations supported with air freight
  • 130 cargo and passenger destinations reached so far
  • Enough cargo to fill 120 Jumbo Jets waiting to be transported in coming weeks

Using a network of global and regional transportation hubs, the U.N. World Food Programme Aviation has over recent months transported huge volumes of urgently-needed medical supplies – including PPE, masks and ventilators – as well as staff from scores of aid organizations. And it’s not just aircraft – the U.N. World Food Programme also has large numbers of ships and trucks transporting goods on behalf of other UN agencies and non-government organizations.

Other Common Service facilities which the U.N. World Food Programme has helped set up for the humanitarian and health community include two field hospitals, one in East and the other in West Africa, and to date 16 medical evacuations have been carried out, including with U.N. World Food Programme-contracted air ambulances.

Video

Photos

For more information, contact:
Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington, Mob. +1 202 770 5993
Shaza Moghraby, WFP/New York, Mob. +1-929-289-9867

Vientiane – Rice and lentils from the United States arrived in Laos this week and were received by the U.S. Ambassador to Lao PDR, Dr. Peter M. Haymond, today at WFP’s Vientiane warehouse.

The donation consists of 68 containers of rice and 4 containers of lentils (1,290 metric tons in total) and will be used to cook school lunches for some 90,000 primary school children in rural areas of Lao PDR starting with the next term in September. For many children, this plate of hot food is the only daily nutritious meal they will receive, a meal that they had to manage without during the recent seven-week school closures due to the COVID pandemic.

“I am so proud that despite the challenges everyone is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States is continuing to support daily school lunches for primary school students in the Lao PDR. School lunches are proven to help students achieve better academic results, and encourage higher attendance for all students, especially females and underrepresented groups. The United States stands together with the people and the Government of Laos to support the pursuit of this country’s development goals,” said Ambassador Haymond.

Since 2008, the U.S. Government’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has been supporting WFP school meals program in Laos. With a total of more than $60 million contribution, McGovern-Dole has helped more than 1.5 million children access daily nutritious lunches through WFP’s school meals program.

In order to shift to long-term, nationally-run school feeding programs, WFP has started handing over the supported schools to the government, with about 500 schools already integrated into the national school meals program to date. WFP is continuing to provide technical assistance to the government beyond the handover. In addition, WFP has made extra efforts to ensure and widen local supply of food to schools and community ownership. A specific program, also supported by USDA, has focused on linking school meals to local agricultural production. Currently, all 925 WFP-supported schools receive contributions of vegetables and greens from local farmers and school gardens.

“WFP’s school meals program is a social safety net for many poor and vulnerable families in Laos,” said Jan Delbaere, WFP Country Director and Representative. “We have learned that during the lockdown, poor households have the most acute challenges in accessing food. As schools are gradually reopening, we are attaching utmost importance to safe, hygienic standards and physical distancing measures all throughout our logistics chain up to the delivery of school meals in the villages. At the same time, we are doing our best to ensure families can keep their children in school by guaranteeing a healthy school meal. We are thankful for the United States as our long-standing partner in support of school children and rural families in Laos, especially in these uncertain times,” he said.

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The United Nations World Food Programme – saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media @WFPUSA

For more information please contact:

  • Ildiko Hamos, Partnerships and Communications Coordinator, ildiko.hamos@wfp.org, Tel. +856 (0)21 330 300 ext. 2229
  • Vilakhone Sipaseuth, Communications Officer, vilakhone.sipaseuth@wfp.org, Tel. +856 (0)21 330 300 ext. 2930

ACCRA – A regional humanitarian response hub in Ghana, established by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), to facilitate COVID-19 response efforts is now fully operational – with the first flights having taken off on May 14. The Accra regional hub is part of a global hub-and-spokes system of air links for dispatching essential medical and humanitarian cargo and transporting health workers to the front lines of the pandemic.

Accra, which was already vital for the dispatching of critical supplies to countries in west and central Africa, is launching humanitarian response flights to Nigeria, Chad, Mali, the Central African Republic, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia, enabling health and humanitarian personnel to rapidly reach areas where they are most needed in a context of limited commercial transport and travel restrictions.

“WFP is extremely grateful to the Government and people of Ghana for hosting the regional cargo and passenger aviation hub which is needed to sustain humanitarian operations that millions of vulnerable people across Africa are depending on during this pandemic,” said Rukia Yacoub, WFP Representative and Country Director in Ghana.

This is the second time in recent years that Ghana is supporting global efforts to address health crises in Africa. In 2014, Accra was the headquarters of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), which was vital to curbing the deadly virus outbreak.

UNMEER was hosted in the WFP-managed United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) located at the Kotoka International Airport, the same facility which is hosting the regional cargo and passenger aviation hub for the COVID-19 response.

The hub mainly serves United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and is operated under stringent measures to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @wfp_ghana @wfp_WAfrica @WFPUSA

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):
Vera Boohene, WFP/Accra, Mob. +233 264 335598
George Fominyen, WFP/Dakar, Mob. +221 776394271

ROME/LIÈGE – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has kick-started a network of global logistics hubs that will support the entire aid community and ensure the delivery of vital medical and humanitarian supplies to developing countries – at a time when commercial air transport is at a virtual standstill.

“The window of opportunity to surge medical and humanitarian equipment into Africa to curb the pandemic is closing fast,” said Amer Daoudi, WFP’s COVID-19 Response Director. “Our global logistics support system is up-and-running, and this delivery marks the first of many cargo shipments we will fly to all corners of the globe,” he added.

A WFP-contracted Boeing 757 cargo flight departed the newly-established Global Humanitarian Response Hub in Liège, Belgium, late on Thursday carrying almost 16 metric tons of medical cargo and personal protective equipment – like masks and gloves – on behalf of UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) destined for Burkina Faso and Ghana. Some of this cargo will then be moved to its final destination in the Republic of Congo.

WFP is setting up the logistics backbone for global COVID-19 efforts, rolling out a global hub-and-spokes system of air links to dispatch vital medical and humanitarian cargo and transport health workers to the front lines of the pandemic. Global Humanitarian Response Hubs located close to where medical supplies are manufactured in Liège, Dubai, and China will link to regional hubs in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malaysia, Panama, Dubai, and South Africa, where a fleet of smaller aircraft will be on standby to move cargo and personnel into priority countries. The network builds on pre-existing UN Humanitarian Response Depots (UNHRD) – including Brindisi in Italy.

WFP expects to transport the equivalent of 37 Boeing 747 planeloads over the next six weeks from China and Malaysia to 130 countries around the world. Once the service is fully up and running, as many as 350 cargo and another 350 passenger flights could fly every month.

While this flight is the first from the new hub in Liège, WFP has dispatched more than 300 metric tons of humanitarian and medical cargo to 89 countries, since late January, supporting governments and health partners in their response to COVID-19. These shipments include masks, gloves, ventilators, testing kits and thermometers.

Aid agencies and health authorities have been struggling to get supplies to fragile settings. They are hindered by the breakdown of global supply chains, the collapse of commercial air travel, border closures, and disruptions to shipping. WFP’s logistics network will bridge the gap in essential services, ensuring humanitarian and health responders on the frontlines of the pandemic can stay and deliver lifesaving assistance.

WFP is also mounting a regional passenger air service to ferry humanitarian and health workers across East and West Africa to overcome disruptions to commercial air services, with the first flights expected in coming days. The service will be expanded to the Middle East, Latin America and Asia soon. WFP also stands ready to set up air links with Geneva and Rome if commercial services are disrupted.

“To put it simply – without our logistics support, the response to COVID-19 in the world’s most fragile settings would stutter to a halt, leaving millions at risk,” Daoudi added.

WFP appealed for an initial $350 million to kick-start global common logistics services, a call echoed by  humanitarian partners in April, who highlighted the urgency of these vital WFP-led efforts.

Broadcast quality footage of the flight available here.
Photos are available here.  

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The United Nations World Food Programme – saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA, @wfp_media, @WFPUSA

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

  • Steve Taravella, WFP/ Washington, Mob.  +1 202 770 5993
  • Shada Moghraby, WFP/ New York, Mob. +1-929-289-9867
  • For general inquiries contact wfp.media@wfp.org
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