BRUSSELS - Contributing a total of €6 million, the Belgian Development Cooperation (DGDC) has helped the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) provide crucial air transport services for the humanitarian community across Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Yemen in 2016 and will continue to support services through 2017.
The desperately needed funds were received just in time for UNHAS operations in Nigeria in 2016, where the complex emergency had reached a critical level. Since early 2012, insurgent activities across the country have resulted in a volatile security environment and caused widespread displacement of the population, particularly in the north-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. Increased insecurity has disrupted food supply, seriously hindered access to basic services, and has limited agricultural activities leaving the population in need of shelter, food and other basic social services.
“The funding received from Belgium has allowed UNHAS Nigeria to continue flying and providing humanitarian access and assistance to the people who need it most,” said Eric Perdison, Chief of WFP Aviation Service. “Without UNHAS, the delivery of aid would be significantly more challenging, if not impossible, for humanitarian organizations on the ground.”
Vast distances, the unpredictable security situation and the dearth of commercial air service providers that meet UN Aviation Standards make aid delivery in Nigeria particularly difficult. UNHAS has enabled humanitarian organizations to access beneficiaries, effectively monitor their projects and also scale up activities in order to reach affected populations.
“To bring humanitarian assistance to the world’s most remote and challenging locations, you need sound logistics. That is why Belgium is supporting UNHAS. Without the efforts of UNHAS, the most vulnerable people would not have access to life-saving humanitarian assistance,” said Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation
Since the establishment of the operation in August 2015, the service has transported over 12,200 passengers and over 50,250 kg of cargo for more than 60 humanitarian entities, including NGOs such as International Rescue Committee (IRC), Action Contre la Faim (ACF), and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
Belgium’s contribution, alongside those of other international donors, enabled the operation in Nigeria to expand its fleet in 2016 with the addition of two helicopters, with the potential of a third helicopter soon. The use of helicopters is vital to effectively reach areas which are inaccessible by fixed-wing aircraft thereby increasing humanitarian access to vulnerable populations.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
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