COVID-19 – Launch of a humanitarian airlift to third countries by the EU (8 May 2020)


In response to the health emergency sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic, France fully supports the initiative taken by the European Union in conjunction with humanitarian NGOs - particularly French NGOs – and humanitarian actors to launch an airlift to deliver humanitarian personnel and cargo to several countries facing an acute humanitarian crisis, most urgently in Africa but also in Asia and the Middle East.

Introduced by Janez Lenarčič, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, this solidarity-based initiative coordinates the logistical resources of the EU, several member states including France, and numerous humanitarian NGOs belonging to the Réseau Logistique Humanitaire (RLH) [Humanitarian Logistical Network].* Its implementation was the topic of a number of discussions between Commissioner Lenarčič, several European foreign ministers, and Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Amid the suspension of air links as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the airlift will make it possible to bring humanitarian personnel and supplies to vulnerable populations, in cooperation with local authorities. The humanitarian supplies being delivered will help prevent and combat the pandemic. This EU initiative will usefully supplement the UN’s humanitarian response plan, and in particular, the World Food Programme’s logistical response plan.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs supports this initiative, which illustrates European solidarity and puts it into practice with respect to the most vulnerable populations facing the Covid-19 pandemic, and facilitates the continuity of humanitarian activities.

Following a meeting in Lyon on May 7 with French NGOs, attended by representatives of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Commissioner Lenarčič accompanied the project’s first flight. An aircraft leased by the European Commission through the Bioport humanitarian association transported humanitarian workers and emergency cargo, including medical supplies provided by French NGOs, from Lyon to Bangui, in the Central African Republic. Two additional flights will carry humanitarian equipment to the CAR in the coming days.

*The Réseau Logistique Humanitaire (RLH) [Humanitarian Logistical Network] includes ACTED, Action against Hunger, the French Red Cross, Handicap International, Médecins du Monde, Oxfam Intermón, Plan International, Première Urgence Internationale, and Solidarités International. Several NGOs are working with the RLH to provide a humanitarian response during the Covid-19 pandemic, including Alima, Bioport, CARE, La Chaîne de l’Espoir, Medair, Solidarité Sida, etc.