Fastest WFP emergency aid responses come from Dubai Filed on October 17, 2020 | Last updated on October 17, 2020 at 11.36 pm
WFP, World Food Programme, Dubai, logistics, humanitarian emergency, aid,

(Photos by Juidin Bernarrd/Khaleej Times)

Two months ago, when the food corridor to the Central Africa Republic was closed, the only option was to fly high-energy biscuits from Dubai.

Whether it's an armed conflict or a natural disaster anywhere in the world, the first humanitarian response comes from WFP's (World Food Programme) Dubai office, Mageed Yahia, director of WFP in the UAE and representative in the GCC countries, told Khaleej Times.

"This hub plays a huge role in our response efficiency in any humanitarian emergency," he said.

The world-class logistics facilities of Dubai, its geographical proximity to conflict zones, and the emirate's generosity makes a huge difference to the crucial humanitarian work that the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organisation does, said Yahia.

The WFP's Dubai office located in the International Humanitarian City is the largest of the six global hubs of the WFP. It manages strategic stocks such as medical kits, high-energy biscuits, shelter gear, logistics and humanitarian equipment. Italy (Brindisi), Ghana (Accra), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Panama (Panama City) and Spain (Las Palmas) are the other five hubs the WFO operates from.

Two months ago, when the food corridor to the Central Africa Republic was closed, the only option was to fly high-energy biscuits from Dubai. "With generous contributions from Dubai, we could fly 35 metric tonnes of energy biscuits."

Thanking the UAE and especially Dubai for its "huge support", Yahia said the country is among one of WFP's top donors helping to feed millions of poor people across the world. "In 2019, the UAE was voted as our sixth largest donor. This has made a lot of difference to us. Whenever there is a need.. when we need to ship urgent items to a spot or we need aircrafts. it is made available. The warehouses and offices located in the Humanitarian City that can accommodate 130 staff is provided free of charge by the Dubai Government."

Commenting on WFP winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Yahya said it is a "big responsibility". "It is an exciting news because it represents a huge recognition for the work that we do - changing and saving lives every day. It is the recognition for 17,000 men and women who work with the WFP in different corners of the world. It also sheds the light on the issue of hunger. It brings to attention the 680 million people that go to sleep without knowing where the next meal is coming from or just having one meal that day."

WFP's humanitarian work faced a huge challenge when airspace was closed and countries went into lockdown. "Using our own air service UNHAS, we were able to dispatch 75,000 cubic metres of essential health supplies to over 160 countries since March," said Yahia.

Captain Samir Sajet, chief regional aviation office for Middle East and Asia - WFP, said the organisation operated chartered flights to affected countries during the pandemic. "It was also important to fly and move the WFP staff from across the world when all other airlines were grounded," he added. 


Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.

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