Part of a Mobile Storage Unit (MSU) are ready to be loaded onto the aircrat at the UNHRD hub in Subang, Malaysia. Photo: WFP-HRD/Kazuhiko Yamazaki
Just a week ago, one of the strongest typhoons to ever make landfall crashed into hundreds of islands throughout the Philippine archipelago, affecting more than 11 million people.
In less than 24 hours, the WFP-managed United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) leapt into action for the people of the Philippines, organizing the dispatch of essential food and relief on behalf of WFP, government and humanitarian partners.
As a strategic global network of six emergency response depots around the world, UNHRD acts as a pre-positioning hub where WFP and its partners can store their life-saving cargo – and request its immediate dispatch when and where it is most needed. From tents and blankets to medicines and emergency food rations, UNHRD stores and ships the most crucial supplies at the request of nearly 60 users.
Given their geographic location, the UNHRD hubs in Dubai, UAE and Subang, Malaysia, have been well-placed to respond to the critical needs after Typhoon Haiyan.
In the first 24 hours, approximately 42 metric tons (mt) of High Energy Biscuits (HEBs) and emergency IT equipment were called forward to be packed up and ready for shipment from the Dubai facilities. On 10 November, they were loaded onto two separate commercial airplanes and flown to Manila for onward forwarding to the affected areas. At the same time in Malaysia, the entire crew was on deck, preparing to dispatch 20 mt of mobile storage tents to be loaded aboard a WFP-chartered aircraft to Cebu, Philippines. A few minutes after the plane was loaded, a decision was made to keep the aircraft for another three rotations -- securing an air bridge between Subang and Cebu and creating an uninterrupted supply of operational support equipment.
Since then, UNHRD Dubai Manager Bekim Mahmuti says the shipments have only increased: “So far, 12 air consignments have been dispatched from UNHRD Dubai for more than 10 different partners, including UN agencies, NGOs and Government organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, Irish Aid, World Health Organization, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and many more.”
His staff are also putting in long hours, packing up cargo and sending it off, but they don’t seem to mind.
“I can’t get them to go home!” Bekim laughs.
As of today, 34 individual food and relief consignments have been dispatched for partners from the Dubai and Subang warehouses. To ensure that the right life-saving assistance is available for purchase and dispatch, UNHRD has immediately sought replenishment of the dispatched goods through suppliers and is continuously monitoring stock levels.
But it’s not only these two hubs stepping up to the plate. Given the nature of this response and the global assistance offered, all six UNHRD hubs and coordination offices have in one or another supported the response effort– from Panama to Las Palmas, Accra and Brindisi.
As of 15 November and on behalf of 11 partners, UNHRD has dispatched over 520 mt of equipment and relief items, with a combined US$2.5 million value, in support of the humanitarian community’s response to the Philippine crisis.
To read more about UNHRD’s work, please visit www.unhrd.org.