European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Service tools

Humanitarian air services

© European Union/ECHO/Romain Gauduchon

Why is this important?

Major natural catastrophes such as epidemics, floods and earthquakes often leave thousands of people in need of quick assistance and sometimes rapid evacuation. Often civilians and aid workers are caught-up in conflicts.

Humanitarian air services are often the only way to get access to remote places and reach people in need. Humanitarian flights are a lifeline for millions of vulnerable people around the world. These flights primarily enable life-saving supplies to reach cut-off populations and make it possible for aid workers to access locations that are difficult to reach. They are also used for medical evacuations and for when the security of a situation deteriorates to the extent that aid workers lives are endangered.

How are we helping?

The European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) operates a humanitarian air service known as ECHO Flight, operating flights in the African countries of KenyaDemocratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali, and recently Uganda. The service is free of charge for humanitarian partners and aid organisations.

With an estimated operating cost of over €16 million in 2017, ECHO flight transported 26 100 passengers and some 195 tonnes of cargo. In 2017, it contributed €19 million to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Yemen, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic, and €730 000 to the Afghanistan operations of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). In 2017, the combined contribution to ECHO flight and UNHAS operations reached €35 million. For 2018, the initial ECHO flight budget amounts to around €15 million.

The ability to respond to humanitarian crises quickly is imperative in preventing loss of lives.

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