European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Service tools

Humanitarian air services

© European Union/ECHO/Romain Gaudochon

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 Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) operates a humanitarian air service known as ECHO Flight, operating flights in the African countries of Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Mali. The service is free of charge for humanitarian partners and aid organisations.

In 2016, the Commission 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). during the Ebola crisis, it also contracted cargo aircraft to deliver life-saving aid to conflict-ridden Central African Republic, Ukraine and to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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

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