To help offset disruptions in aid delivery caused by travel restrictions on Ebola-affected countries, the top United Nations relief official today approved an emergency allocation of nearly $4 million for the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) to support operations in West Africa.
Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, allocated $3.8 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to bolster UNHAS, as reduced commercial travel in the region has hindered the urgent deployment of healthcare personnel and supplies.
This has severely affected the scale up of the urgent life-saving response to the Ebola outbreak in the region, says a press release from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which Ms. Amos heads.
The funding will assist the World Food Programme (WFP), which runs UNHAS, to move humanitarian personnel, medical supplies and equipment, and other essential humanitarian cargo rapidly and efficiently to multiple remote locations within Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
“UNHAS is a vital service to the Ebola response. Non-governmental organizations, UN personnel and other responders will be able to use the service to travel and deliver supplies to people in need. The pilots, crew and support staff are a vital part of the response,” said Dr. David Nabarro, the Senior UN System Coordinator for Ebola.
To date, humanitarian partners have received $7.6 million from CERF in support of their initial response to the Ebola outbreak in four countries, including emergency health care and food assistance: Guinea ($2.7 million), Liberia ($1.9 million), Nigeria ($1.5 million) and Sierra Leone ($1.5 million).
The CERF was established in 2006 to help humanitarian agencies respond rapidly to new or deteriorating crises. UN Member States and observers, regional and local authorities, the private sector, foundations and individuals have contributed $3.6 billion to CERF. The Fund has disbursed almost $3.5 billion to help millions of people affected by crises in 88 countries, according to OCHA.