A specialised logistics hub from which medical supplies, equipment and workers involved in the fight against the coronavirus will be flown across Africa opened at Ethiopia’s Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa on Tuesday.
The first “Solidarity Flight” out to Djibouti, north-east of Ethiopia, was scheduled to depart on Tuesday afternoon.
The Addis Ababa Humanitarian Air Hub is a joint effort by the Ethiopian government, the UN and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to improve the Covid-19 response in Africa where medical infrastructure is often weak.
“The Solidarity Flight is part of a larger effort to ship lifesaving medical supplies to 95 countries,” said Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, which procured the equipment.
According to a statement by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which is assisting in the operation, a cargo flight containing “aprons, face shields, gloves, goggles, gowns, masks and thermometers” arrived in Addis Ababa on April 13.
Edward Johnson of the WFP said that various flights would leave Ethiopia with specific consignments of goods for 32 countries identified by the WHO.
A team of 25 WFP aviation and logistics staff will be based at the hub to manage the 24-hour operation.
“This partnership … highlights the value of collaboration in responding to the needs of millions of people,” said Catherine Sozi, a UN co-ordinator in Ethiopia.
It is hoped that the flights from Ethiopia will soon be able to transport humanitarian personnel and enable evacuations, the WFP said.
Almost all of the continent’s 54 countries have confirmed Covid-19 cases. (dpa/NAN)