Supply chain sector stepping up to aid Ukraine

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by Emily Atkins

Supply chain organizations are using their resources and expertise to help provide aid the the citizens of Ukraine as Russia continues to attack the country.

Some two million people have been displaced and are crossing Ukraine’s western borders into neighbouring countries as refugees. The UN estimates that this number could double, intensifying an already desperate situation.

Air Canada Cargo

An Air Canada-operated humanitarian special cargo flight on behalf of Airlink and other aid organizations departed Toronto Pearson International Airport with a final destination of Warsaw, Poland, on Wednesday, March 9.

Through a partnership between Air Canada, disaster logistics non-profit Airlink, relief organization Project C.U.R.E., and freight forwarder Flexport, medical supplies and hospital beds, humanitarian and medical supplies were loaded onboard the Air Canada Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Medical and trauma supplies destined for a Ukrainian hospital provided by Canadian disaster relief and life-saving humanitarian aid organization GlobalMedic were also loaded.

Non-profit disaster logistics expert Airlink exists to help remove the cost of air transportation as a barrier to NGOs responding to disasters and other humanitarian crises. It was able to use its long-term partnership with Air Canada, and support from donors, to secure the cargo-only flight making the delivery of this shipment possible. Airlink also has transported 42 relief workers for 11 non-profit organizations providing medical care, food, mental health counseling, clean water, and other essentials to Ukrainian refugees.

After the flight arrives in Poland, Project C.U.R.E. will manage the distribution of supplies to hospitals treating Ukrainian civilians injured during the war, expanding the capacity of hospitals in border regions to provide care. Primary care has been identified by aid agencies as one of the most pressing needs for refugees.

“Our hearts are with the Ukrainian people in need – all of us have seen the crisis they are facing. We know from our aid partners the critical requirement for much needed medical and humanitarian supplies and our global partner Airlink reached out to us to help transport these vital items quickly,” said Jason Berry, vice-president, Ccargo at Air Canada.

“Importantly, both Airlink and GlobalMedic have the infrastructure and teams on the ground to ensure that the shipments will get to their destinations right after our flight arrives. We are proud of our employees who have stepped up to help organize the complex logistics, handle and operate this special flight so quickly,”

Airlink’s president and CEO Steve Smith, and Douglas Jackson, president and CEO of Project C.U.R.E. both said this is just the first of many flights their organizations will send to support Ukrainian refugees.

CP Rail

Canadian Pacific has pledged $500,000 to the Canadian Red Cross in support of humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine and for Ukrainian refugees.

“Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, and we hope this donation will provide some much-needed support in the growing humanitarian crisis this deeply troubling conflict has created,” said Keith Creel, CP president and CEO. “The strength and bravery of the Ukrainian people fighting for their freedoms is nothing short of inspiring.”

CP will be 100 percent matching employee donations for the next 30 days made to the Canadian Red Cross and American Red Cross. CP will continue to match donations to other aid agencies providing relief to the suffering in Ukraine via CP’s employee charitable giving program.

“I also encourage other companies across Canada and the United States to join us contributing to relief efforts,” Creel said.


Since the closure of its terminal in the port of Odessa following the Russian attacks on Ukraine, Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) has been working to ensure the safety of its 480 employees and their families.

An evacuation plan was put into place, and on Wednesday morning, the first families of HHLA staff members from Ukraine arrived in Hamburg. Approximately 80 women, children and older people who decided to flee their homeland arrived at the company’s main building on two touring coaches chartered by HHLA. A third bus with 40 additional refugees is expected within the next few days.

Support staff assisted people who had fled Odessa in their private cars.

The refugees will stay with German HHLA employees. More than 70 HHLA employees and their relatives and neighbours responded to the company’s call and have offered people a place to stay in their homes.

The German employees are not only providing the refugees with “homes” for the initial period but also serve as contacts and chaperones for pending bureaucratic procedures. They are supported by HHLA staff members with knowledge of Ukrainian and Russian.

HHLA employees have collected more than 40,000 euros within a short period of time in the course of a “Together for Odessa” pledge campaign.

“We are aware of our responsibility for our employees, no matter at which location they work for us,” said Angela Titzrath, chairwoman of HHLA’s executive board.

“Cohesion and the ability to rely on one another are distinguishing features of our corporate culture that will stand the test in these difficult times, as they do in our everyday working lives. We are also demonstrating solidarity with our staff members in Odessa by continuing to reliably fulfill our supply mandate at all other locations and by rail.”