WFP to fly 747 planes worth of PPE over next six weeks
ROME – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has kick-started a network of global logistical hubs with the departure on Thursday of a cargo plane carrying almost 16 metric tons of medical cargo and personal protective equipment (PPE) to Africa, reports a WFP press release. The WFP expects to transport the equivalent of 37 Boeing 747 planeloads over the next six weeks, and once the service is fully operational, as many as 350 cargo flights and another 350 passenger flights could fly every month to ensure the delivery of vital medical and humanitarian supplies to developing countries.
The WFP-contracted flight left from the UN’s cargo hub in Liège, Belgium, destined for Burkina Faso and Ghana, with some of its cargo then to be moved to its final destination in the Republic of Congo.
“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. Therefore, the WFP has made it its mission to set up a system of air links to transport health workers to the front lines of the pandemic, and dispatch vital medical and humanitarian cargo from where they are manufactured in Liège, Dubai, and China, to regional hubs in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malaysia, Panama, Dubai, and South Africa, where a fleet of smaller aircraft will be able to move the cargo and personnel into priority areas.
Aid agencies and health authorities have been struggling to get supplies to fragile countries, and are hindered by the breakdown of global supply chains, the collapse of commercial air travel, border closures, and disruptions to shipping.
The WFP’s logistics network will aim to bridge this gap in essential services, ensuring humanitarian and health responders on the frontlines of the pandemic can deliver lifesaving assistance.
“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,” stressed Mr. Daoudi.