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UN ‘Solidarity Flight’ from Addis Ababa Takes First Planeload of Medical Supplies to African Nations

April 14, 2020 (EIRNS)—The first UN Solidarity Flight left Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today to transport critical anti-COVID-19 medical equipment to all parts of Africa. The following is taken from today’s press release issued jointly by the World Health Organization, the World Food Program (WFP), and the African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa.

The UN World Food Program provided the cargo plane, as most civilian flights are now cancelled. Onboard are face shields, gloves, goggles, gowns, masks, medical aprons, and thermometers, as well as ventilators. These were donated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Jack Ma and Ali Baba Foundations Initiative. “Our air bridges need to be fully funded to do this, and we stand ready to transport frontline health and humanitarian workers as well as medical cargo,” said David Beasley, WFP’s executive director.

The crucial WHO cargo includes 1 million face masks, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE), which will be enough to protect health caregivers while treating more than 30,000 patients across the continent, and laboratory supplies to support surveillance and detection. The Solidarity Flight is part of a larger effort to ship life-saving medical supplies to 95 countries, said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. WHO’s logistics hub in Dubai, staffed by a team of seven, has been working around the clock to dispatch over 130 shipments of PPE and laboratory supplies to 95 countries across all six WHO regions.

“The medical supplies are timely as the continent still has a window of opportunity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Collective and fast actions as exemplified by the Solidarity Flight are therefore critical,” said John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As part of a global appeal to raise a $2 billion for the COVID-19 response, launched by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on March 25, WFP is calling for $350 million to establish vital humanitarian hubs around the world to facilitate the storage and dispatch of essential medical cargo, set up air transport links for cargo and personnel, contract charter vessels for shipping services, and provide passenger air and medevac services for humanitarian and health workers. This includes such Solidarity Flights as the one through Addis Ababa. At this point, it has only received $84 million of what they require.

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