UN praises UAE’s support for African countries during coronavirus crisis

The first UN solidarity flight to take medical supplies to African countries has taken off

A young boy wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus, with his father stands in a queue to shop in Soweto, South Africa, Thursday, March 26, 2020. In hours South Africa goes into a nationwide lockdown for 21-days in an effort to mitigate the spread to the coronavirus.  (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
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The UN on Monday commended the UAE’s humanitarian efforts to provide medical and protective supplies to African countries for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I would like to thank the African Union, the governments of UAE and Ethiopia, the Jack Ma Foundation and all of our partners for their solidarity with African countries at this critical moment in history," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of World Health Organisation.

His comments came as the first UN solidarity flight to take medical supplies to African countries took off.

"Thanks to the government of the UAE for its generous support of this operation,” said Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, the WHO's director for Eastern Mediterranean.

"WHO’s regional logistics hub in Dubai has played a key role in making sure these supplies are prepared and shipped to where they are most needed.

“This is by far the largest single shipment of supplies since the start of the pandemic, and will ensure that people living in countries with some of the weakest health systems are able to get tested and treated, while ensuring that health workers on the front lines are properly protected."

As part of a global appeal to raise $2 billion (Dh7.34bn) for response against the coronavirus, the World Food Programme is calling for $350 million to establish vital humanitarian centres around the world.

They will store and send essential medical cargo, set up air transport links for cargo and personnel, contract charter vessels for shipping services, and provide passenger air and evacuation services for humanitarian and health workers.

The scheme includes “Solidarity Flights” through Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia.

The programme has so far received only 24 per cent of the $350m it requires to provide these services.

“WFP is committed to getting vital medical supplies to front lines and shielding medical workers as they save lives," said David Beasley, its executive director.

"Our air bridges need to be fully funded to do this, and we stand ready to transport frontline health and humanitarian workers, as well as medical cargo."