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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations: European Union Humanitarian Air Bridge (Last updated 15/09/2021)

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What is it?

Initially set up in response to the transport constraints created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Union Humanitarian Air Bridge flight operations are intended to help reinforce humanitarian or emergency responses in countries facing fragile contexts. These flights help fill in critical gaps by facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid, emergency assistance and the transport of humanitarian staff when required.

The EU Humanitarian Air Bridge is an ad-hoc initiative operated on a needs-based approach. Its implementation brings together a number of actors: the European Commission and EU Member States in a Team Europe coordination, national authorities of the destination countries, and humanitarian and civil society organisations.

Why is this important?

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about huge logistical challenges for the humanitarian community, including the absence of commercial flights that were held up due to transport restrictions.

Against this background, the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge was set up as part of the EU’s global coronavirus response actions to transport aid to some of the most fragile countries and allow the continuity of humanitarian assistance and the delivery of essential medical supplies, including material needed to support countries’ COVID-19 response.

The initiative also helped with the transport of humanitarian teams on rotation and assisted in passenger repatriation flights organised by EU Member States.

In the current context, the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights are helping to address constraints faced by humanitarian actors on the ground, such as critical humanitarian situations where supplies outstrip needs by far, there is limited access, or the delivery of humanitarian aid is hampered by logistical or administrative barriers.