Charities move aid to Ukraine by air

by Krystyna Shchedrina

As the war caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine escalates, Canadian charities and organizations are working to ensure citizens and refugees receive much-needed help.

Global Medic, a registered Canadian charity, joined forces with the Ukrainian Medical Support group, Air Canada and Airlink, a disaster logistics non-profit expert organization, to deliver essential goods to Western Ukraine.

Medical supplies are loaded onto the flight for Poland. (Global Medic image)

Jamie Cross, an emergency project manager at Global Medic, said the first shipment has already reached its destination after a loaded Air Canada Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner took off for Poland on March 9. The medical supplies were trucked from Warsaw into Ukraine with a final destination at a hospital in Lviv.

The supplies were donated and staged at Global Medic’s warehouse in Etobicoke, Ontario. The 20 skids included assorted medical supplies, Cross said. “A large portion of these essential surgical and trauma supplies, like band-aids and over-the-counter medication, were collected here, in Global Medic’s main warehouse and processed to make them ready for air freight.”

Cross added that the charity did not have to pay for the shipment since their long-time partner Airlink facilitated getting not-for-profit airfreight capacity and arranged the charter.

Teams on the ground

Ukranian refugees in Moldova are being helped by the Global Medic aid. (Global Medic image)

In a press release, Jason Berry, vice-president, cargo at Air Canada, said that both Airlink and Global Medic have teams and infrastructure on the ground to ensure the shipments will get to their destinations right after the flight arrives. This is why, according to Cross, there have been no losses or damages to the supplies transported across the Ukrainian border.

Even before the war started, Global Medic had already had several long-time local partners thanks to its long history of working in Ukraine. “Our local partners and our rapid response team members are on the ground to help facilitate transportation safety. If there are any issues, we will address them at the point they happen and will make a plan about how to do future logistics with regards to that.”

Meest Express is another company that provides free air freight to transport humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Every day since the invasion began, they have been collecting and shipping parcels with military ammunition, warm clothes for soldiers, dry food and medicine.

However, with free shipments for parcels under 60 kilograms (132 lb), this Toronto-based Ukrainian company rapidly reached capacity. On March 7, Meest established a daily limit of two donation boxes per person and introduced nominal fees of $5 per kilogram for parcels exceeding the 60-kg limit.

What’s next

Supplies are staged for transport into Ukraine. (Global Medic image)

Air Canada’s press release quotes Dr. Douglas Jackson, president and CEO of Project C.U.R.E., who said this air freight of emergency medical supplies and equipment is just one of many to come.

When asked about future operations with Airlink and Air Canada, Jamie Cross says Global Medic is planning to expand its food aid by preparing emergency kits for shipments in the next couple of weeks. To keep all the food safe, these will be packed buckets with pantry staples that are common for Ukrainians. The kits will include Canadian-purchased bags of buckwheat, rice, and beans,.