April 15, 2020: The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has selected Addis Ababa as a humanitarian shipment hub for Africa to distribute medical supplies with Ethiopian Cargo. The first cargo flight arrived in Ethiopia on April 13 from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) loaded with aprons, face shields, gloves, goggles, gowns, masks and thermometers procured by the World Health Organization (WHO) for distribution to 32 African countries.

In association with UN WFP, the government of Ethiopia opened a new hub inside Bole International Airport from which Covid-19 supplies, equipment, and humanitarian workers will be transported by air across Ethiopia and Africa.

"Really there is only one place that could happen and that’s here in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa,” Steven Were Omamo, WFP representative and country director stated.

The Addis Ababa Humanitarian Air Hub is part of a UN initiative move to scale up procurement and distribution of protective equipment and medical supplies for the Covid-19 response.

“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 24x7 operation.

They organise 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 organise and process flights for humanitarian personnel through the Addis Ababa hub as well as medical evacuations.

As part of a global appeal to raise $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 support vital common aviation, shipping, storage and transport and engineering services in areas affected by the pandemic.

Recently, Ethiopian’s B777F has transported 1,280,000 masks, 4,250,000 gloves, 121,050 protective coveralls and 27,600 eye protection goggles from Shanghai to Valencia. Similarly, the carrier’s B787-8 Dreamliner transported 10 tonnes of cargo to Kilimanjaro and 26 tonnes of fresh flowers and saplings to Amsterdam via Addis Ababa.

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