Medical supplies being offloaded at Khartoum Airport in Sudan on Sunday. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has ordered an emergency humanitarian air-bridge to Sudan, transporting essential medical supplies. Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: A flight carrying around 93 tonnes of humanitarian medical supplies from Dubai to Sudan arrived at Khartoum Airport on Sunday as per the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in response to the evolving health emergency there.

The flight is part of an emergency humanitarian air-bridge to Sudan, transporting essential medical supplies due to the closure of ports in Sudan and in support of ongoing operations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the country.

The International Humanitarian City in Dubai (IHC) facilitated three Boeing 747 cargo flight rotations by the Dubai Royal Air Wing fleet, made available upon the directives of Sheikh Mohammed.

Saving lives

The three flights will transport more than 283 tonnes of medicine, medical supplies, and health kits to Sudan to support the Sudanese people, alleviate their suffering and save precious lives.

This humanitarian air-bridge comes in response to the ongoing health emergency the Sudanese people are facing due to the critical shortages of essential medicine and the congestion of Port Sudan operations with a backlog of containers, which is delaying the release of vital medical supplies and increasing the vulnerability of internally displaced peoples (IDPs) and refugees.

The rainy season in Sudan has also led to an increase in the frequency of transmission of water-borne diseases, complicating the medical emergency further.

Medical supplies being offloaded at Khartoum Airport in Sudan. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Largest air-bridge

This air-bridge represents the single largest air-bridge formed between the UAE and Sudan. The second flight will leave Dubai to Khartoum on Wednesday, carrying another 93 tons of further aid, followed by the third flight on Thursday with an additional 98.5 tons of aid.

Dr Yousra Mohammed, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health in Sudan, was present at Khartoum Airport to welcome the first flight and expressed his gratitude to the UAE for the air-bridge.

Dr Yousra Mohammed Othman Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dr Othman told Gulf News at Khartoum Airport: “On behalf of Sudan’s people and government we are grateful and thankful for the UAE government and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid for the gesture. The aid will support the health sector in Sudan in this critical time of the year especially with the rain season and expectation of epidemics.”

Thanking Sheikh Mohammed

Meanwhile, Giuseppe Saba, CEO of the International Humanitarian City, praised Sheikh Mohammed for his directive to support transporting the aid.

“This air-bridge represents yet another example of the personal commitment and devotion of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid in helping and supporting those most in need,” Saba told Gulf News.

Giuseppe Saba Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“The first flight of the humanitarian air-bridge successfully delivered aid to Sudan on Sunday [October 24], which also marks the 2021 United Nations Day.”

WHO’s role

WHO will deliver much needed medicine and health supplies from its logistics hub in Dubai to Khartoum to address the health needs of 1.5 million people and support the protection of over 300,000 front-line health workers.

The shipments valued at more than $2 million (around Dh7.35 million) also include essential paediatric medicine. The supplies will be immediately distributed upon arrival to health facilities in 19 States across Sudan. WHO’s Dubai Logistics Hub is also deploying technical staff with the supplies to facilitate the operation.

Dr Nima Abid, WHO Representative in Sudan, thanked Sheikh Mohammed for making his royal aircraft available to WHO to transport the aid.

“The expedited transport and delivery of the medicine and aid will most certainly save lives and alleviate suffering and we are grateful for the support from all parties engaged in coordinating this historic operation,” Dr Abid said.

Supply at critical juncture

“Sudan continues to suffer from the impact of global supply chain disruptions that affect the transport and delivery of essential medicine. These flights come at a critical time when Sudan is facing higher transmission of waterborne diseases due to the rainy season, as well as increasing numbers of vulnerable populations in need of humanitarian and medical assistance.”

Meanwhile, Annette Heinzelmann, Emergency Coordinator of WHO in Sudan, told Gulf News at Khartoum Airport that the flight contains malaria medicine, medicine for children and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to protect medical staff against COVID-19.

Annette Heinzelmann Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“There is a shortage of medical supplies in Sudan. We are after the rainy season and entering a period of high transmission of infectious diseases like malaria. These supplies urgently needed for population of Sudan,” she said.

Logistics hub

This year, WHO’s Logistics Hub in Dubai has delivered a total of 25 shipments to Sudan valued at $ 1.4 million (around Dh5.14 million). In 2020, the hub supported eight lifeline shipments to Sudan valued at $900,000 (around Dh33 million).

Through its logistics hub in Dubai, WHO is able to immediately and efficiently deliver lifesaving supplies to countries around the world. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hub dispatched over $ 90 million (around Dh3.3 billion) worth of health supplies to over 120 countries.