Working together with the region’s governments, we plan to connect more humanitarian operations in Asia and the Pacific to our logistics hubs in China and Malaysia. From there, vital supplies are also being dispatched to the COVID-19 frontlines in other parts of the world.
“We are only as strong as the weakest,” the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres once said. He has asked all governments to grant permission for humanitarian flights to land until regular commercial flight services are restored.
With each flight, WFP and our partners take all necessary precautions to avoid transmitting the virus. But without access, it will be a struggle to ensure that people everywhere have the medical supplies and equipment they need to face this pandemic.
To keep humanitarian workers safe and healthy – without burdening over-stretched medical services – we are also asking some governments whose health care systems have the capacity to allow aid personnel access to life-saving medical assistance if required.
In just a few months, COVID-19 has sent shockwaves throughout the world. Governments are struggling to flatten the curve of the pandemic, racing against time to save the lives and livelihoods of their citizens.
At a time like this, it’s natural to focus on issues closer to home. But as long as COVID-19 is ravaging any country, it is a threat to us all. We stand a far better chance to defeat the virus and restore livelihoods sooner rather than later by entrusting and leveraging each other’s strengths.
Protecting the humanitarian supply chain and humanitarian workers is a prerequisite to a successful COVID-19 response, especially if we are to prevent the health crisis from becoming a humanitarian catastrophe.
John Aylieff is World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.