WFP launches Ethiopian Government-supported Air Hub for COVID-19 response
ADDIS ABABA – The Government of Ethiopia and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) opened a new hub inside Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport from which COVID-19 supplies, equipment and humanitarian workers will be transported by air across Ethiopia and Africa.
The Addis Ababa Humanitarian Air Hub is part of a United Nations initiative move to scale up procurement and distribution of protective equipment and medical supplies for the COVID-19 response. With guidance and support from the Government of Ethiopia, WFP set up the hub in Addis Ababa and began operations this week.
“The Government is proud to host this hub in Ethiopia on behalf of the global community, said H. E. Ato Admasu Nebebe, State Minister in the Federal Ministry of Finance. “We are honoured to be contributing this way to the global endeavour to tackle the coronavirus disease.”
The first cargo flight arrived in Ethiopia on 13 April from the United Arab Emirates loaded with aprons, face shields, gloves, goggles, gowns, masks and thermometers procured by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) for distribution to 32 African countries.
“Thanks to the Government of Ethiopia, WFP worked with airport and customs authorities to establish this air hub in days,” said WFP Ethiopia Country Director and Representative Steven Were Omamo. “Ethiopia has proven its willingness and agility to act as a regional caregiver in this time of crisis.”
A team of 25 WFP aviation and logistics staff are based at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, managing the 24-hour operation.
They organize warehouse space for dry bulk, temperature-controlled and cold storage cargo and its onward flights. WFP also provides dedicated cargo tracking, warehouse management and customer service to countries across Africa in collaboration with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This partnership between the Government of Ethiopia, WFP and WHO is aligned with the vision of the United Nations in Ethiopia and highlights the value of collaboration in responding to the needs of millions of people,” said United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia Catherine Sozi.
Following further discussions with the Government of Ethiopia, WFP is planning to organize and process flights for humanitarian personnel through the Addis Ababa hub as well as medical evacuations.
As part of a global appeal to raise US$2 billion for the COVID-19 response, launched by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on 25 March, WFP is calling for US$350 million to support vital common aviation, shipping, storage and transport and engineering services in areas affected by the pandemic.