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Humanitarian Air Service Could Run Out of Money

By Lisa Schlein June 19, 2020

The U.N.'s World Food Program says its humanitarian air service could stop at the end of July without more funds to keep operating.

The service transports food, health supplies and other necessities to millions of poor, vulnerable people around the world. The thousands of aid workers flown to emergency hot spots provide people with urgent assistance they need but could not otherwise receive.

The service is at risk because the World Food Program has received only 14 percent of the $965 million it needs to keep functioning. WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said global aid operations will be severely compromised if the service shuts down.

"Hospitals in developing countries would not receive desperately needed medical supplies," she said. "Health centers serving pregnant women and undernourished children would not receive life-saving nutritional products for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition."

The WFP said if a substantial amount of money is not donated by the end of the first week of July, its global network of passengers and cargo services in support of the humanitarian community will stop at the end of July.

"With the pandemic showing no signs of abating, it is crucial that the response does not stop now when it is needed most," Byrs said.

In recent months, WFP leaders say the air service has transported huge volumes of urgently needed medical supplies, including personal protective equipment, face masks and ventilators, as well as staff from scores of aid organizations.

During that time, it says WFP-contracted air ambulances have carried out 16 medical evacuations.

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