Africa Wellness

Major aid flight to Covid-stricken Sudan

One of the first major international humanitarian flights to Sudan took place today, since the airport closed in March to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and on the eve of the High-Level Sudan Partnership Conference in Berlin.


Aid supplies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and relief staff from the Norwegian Refugee Council were flown to Khartoum today on board the European Union’s Humanitarian Air Bridge flight, one of the first major humanitarian flights to the country since lockdown began.  

“Today’s historic humanitarian flight is symbolic of the possibility and hope that exists for Sudan in this new political era. The current government has welcomed us back, and shown willingness to put its people first and prioritise humanitarian needs. We hope to see this continue,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

NRC was one of 13 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) expelled from Sudan by former President Bashir’s regime in 2009. Humanitarian support and access to the country had been largely insufficient to meet large-scale humanitarian needs in the years that followed.

“The EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight is the second one we have operated to Sudan in less than a fortnight, to help fill in needs in these challenging times and deliver essential aid and humanitarian workers to support people in need. The flight is also an opportunity to mark the progress being made in Sudan towards opening access to the humanitarian community,” said the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič.

Conflict and economic crisis have pushed over 9 million Sudanese to rely on humanitarian assistance, of whom close to 2 million have fled their homes. Sixty-five per cent of the population live under the poverty line. In addition, Sudan hosts over a million refugees from neighbouring countries, including South Sudan, Eritrea and Syria.

Humanitarians are ready to scale up the aid response in Sudan, but there is woefully little funding. Sudan’s aid appeal for 2020 is among the largest in the world, with US$1.4 billion needed to help those in need. However, only 25 per cent of the appeal has been funded so far, halfway through the year.

Through its humanitarian funding, the EU has always stood by the vulnerable people in Sudan, providing around €550 million to support aid organisations in the country since 2011. The EU will reaffirm this solidarity at tomorrow’s High-Level Sudan Partnership Conference, co-hosted by the EU, the United Nations, Germany and Sudan, which is aimed at providing support for Sudan on its path of reforms.

The EU’s Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to Sudan form part of the organisation’s global response to the coronavirus pandemic, of which more than €120 million has been allocated to Sudan in a Team Europe approach, bringing together the EU and its Member States.