The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) has introduced a new fleet of orange-painted helicopters as part of efforts to improve safety of operations in the restive eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – where millions need life-saving humanitarian support.
The latest move is part of a raft of measures including use of livery, ongoing access negotiations and community engagement initiatives, that have been rolled out to help aid workers reach communities in need safely.
‘’If the helicopter you see up there is orange, then you need to know that it’s a WFP helicopter, “says Peter Musoko, WFP’s Country Director in DRC. “It’s flying humanitarian workers to help support the most vulnerable people who need emergency assistance.’ The orange helicopters are a symbol of peace for the frontline workers, so they can reach those most in need. Our work is always guided by the core humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence.’’
UNHAS provides passenger and light cargo services to some of the world ‘s most remote and challenging locations that would otherwise be difficult to reach by land due to vast distances, limited infrastructure and insecurity. With donor support, the air service has a fleet of nine aircraft operating in DRC including two which are fully funded by the European Union (EU). In 2023, UNHAS has so far flown more than 10, 000 aid workers and over 160 metric tons of essential cargo and evacuated over 41 people in need of urgent medical care.
The humanitarian situation in DRC remains dire. In the eastern part of the country, armed clashes have resulted in massive displacement, with thousands of families fleeing to camps around Goma. The crisis has left more than 1.1 million people in need of food support across North Kivu, Ituri, and South Kivu. Without the air service, aid workers would have been unable to provide support to remote communities.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).