Air Canada Cargo joins in Ukraine relief group

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by Emily Atkins

Disaster logistics nonprofit Airlink and its consortium of airlines, freight forwarders, and humanitarian aid organizations have announced a commitment to sending one thousand responders and one thousand tons of humanitarian aid to support Ukrainians’ impact by the Russian invasion.

The ‘Commitment to Action’ on behalf of the people of Ukraine, called AviationCARES: Ukraine Response, was made at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) 2022 meeting.

The United Nations estimates that almost 18M people will require humanitarian assistance in the coming months, especially as winter approaches.

Partners in the initiative include Air Canada Cargo, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Flexport, SEKO Logistics, ISTAT and the ISTAT Foundation, the Tzu Chi Charity Foundation, the UPS Foundation, Convoy of Hope, CORE, Footprint Project, GlobalMedic, MedShare, Project CURE, Project HOPE, Team Rubicon, and World Hope International. The group will also work directly with local nonprofit actors and organizations to build a locally driven response and foster closer links between local and external organizations.  

Since February, Airlink and its partners have delivered 559 responders and 572 tons of aid, helping an estimated 3.7 million Ukrainians displaced inside of Ukraine and those in Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

“We are humbled to be able to continue our support for the people affected by the Ukraine crisis through the Clinton Global Initiative. We are also proud to be able to use our freighters to assist in the transport of aid, which includes critical medical and humanitarian supplies via Airlink,” said Jason Berry, vice-president, cargo at Air Canada.

Two of the biggest challenges to the effective delivery of aid post-disaster are costs of transport and management of the supply chain and the coordination of aid so that supply meets the on-the-ground needs. Research conducted by the Kuehne Logistics University, HELP Logistics and several NGOs found that between 2005 and 2018, supply chain expenditure averaged 73 percent of total humanitarian relief expenses. Airlink exists to remove the costs of airlift and transportation for nonprofits responding to humanitarian disasters and to enable coordination and cooperation to happen amongst NGOs at the outset of a response.  

The response faces myriad challenges, and a wide range of aid is still needed six months later. In Ukraine, access to clean water and hygiene items continues to be disrupted, where sanitation infrastructure has been destroyed, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases.

Hostilities and infrastructure damage have led to severe supply chain disruptions, resulting in unreliable access to food and essential items; half of all Ukrainians are currently food insecure. Health systems are overwhelmed due to conflict, mass displacement, lack of supplies, and damage or destruction of hospital and clinic buildings. This boost in support to Ukraine and displaced Ukrainians in surrounding countries will increase access to medical and mental health care, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), food, protection, and other services through winter and into 2023.