Sweden supports UN Humanitarian Air Service in Sudan

News Hour:

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a contribution from the Government of Sweden to support the WFP-operated United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in Sudan.

This contribution from Sweden, of SEK 5 million (approximately US$600,000), will allow WFP to continue running a safe and reliable air service to hundreds of humanitarian staff serving vulnerable communities across Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan.

“UNHAS continues to play a unique role in humanitarian operations across the world through delivering humanitarian cargo and transporting workers to and from affected areas,” said the Swedish Ambassador to Sudan, Mette Sunnergren. “Sweden will continue to support UNHAS in order to support humanitarian logistics in Sudan in 2016.”

In recent months, UNHAS has played a significant role in flying aid workers into locations where people fleeing the conflict in Jebel Marra area have gone. The air service has ensured that staff were on the ground to conduct a rapid assessment and provide much-needed assistance.

“We are very grateful to the people and Government of Sweden for this timely contribution that helps us maintain this critical service to the humanitarian community to facilitate our reaching those in urgent need of assistance, wherever they are,” said WFP Sudan Representative and Country Director Adnan Khan.

During the first quarter of 2016, UNHAS has made more than 1,150 flights carrying nearly 9,000 passengers and has also performed two medical evacuations.

In 2015, UNHAS carried 37,129 passengers – half of them UN staff and the remainder mostly NGO staff, in addition to a small number of government officials dealing with humanitarian affairs, donor representatives and diplomats.

Established in Sudan in 2004, UNHAS is run by a steering committee comprising representatives of UN agencies, NGOs and donors, but is directly managed by WFP Sudan. On average, UNHAS transports 3,500 passengers and 20 metric tons of light cargo each month to more than 40 locations in Sudan. It also provides medical and security evacuations when needed.

The humanitarian air service – like WFP, is entirely funded by voluntary contributions – relies on a fleet of five aircraft (two fixed-wing aircraft and three helicopters) based in Khartoum, Nyala, El-Fasher and Geneina. While the fixed-wing aircraft provide air shuttle services from Khartoum to the three Darfur state capitals, the helicopters facilitate humanitarian travel to areas that are inaccessible by road, either due to insecurity or poor road conditions. Other contributors to UNHAS in Sudan include Canada, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Common Humanitarian Fund.

Mridha Shihab Mahmud

Mridha Shihab Mahmud is a writer, content editor and photojournalist. He works as a staff reporter at News Hour. He is also involved in humanitarian works through a trust called Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE). Mridha also works as film director. His passion is photography. He is the chief respondent person in Mymensingh Film & Photography Society. Besides professional attachment, he loves graphics designing, painting, digital art and social networking.
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