Disaster logistics non-profit Airlink has been provided funding to operate charter flights to Haiti to transport aid to those in need of help.
The funding comes from a USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) grant to operate at least 2 charter flights a month until the end of January, and Airlink would like to continue flying beyond January, funding permitting.
Humanitarian agencies are struggling to get aid to the island due to transport costs and gang violence impacting maritime ports, road access and overall security.
Air charter prices have increased 160% in the last 6 years and an estimated 200 gangs operate across Haiti with around 95 in the capital Port-au-Prince.
The population are dealing with an ongoing humanitarian emergency and the impact of multiple disasters including the instability caused by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise and a deadly earthquake in 2021.
A cholera outbreak is the latest disaster, with more than 18,000 suspected cases, of which 30% are in children under the age of 9.
The first 2 air bridge flights departed Miami International Airport carrying 88 tons of aid including medical supplies, IV fluids, water purification supplies and clean water filtration equipment.
Lana Oh, USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team lead in Haiti, says, “As humanitarian needs persist and a cholera epidemic threatens the health and wellbeing of the Haitian people, USAID is working to get life-saving aid to those who need it most. We are proud to partner with Airlink to create this vital airbridge to Haiti to save lives and alleviate suffering caused by this ongoing humanitarian crisis and cholera epidemic.”
Non-governmental organisations (NGO) are struggling to deliver aid to Haiti due to high transport costs, few scheduled airlines wanting to fly to the island and global competition for airfreight space driving charter flight costs beyond most NGO budgets.
The security situation means sea freight is out of action due to a lack of port security and the cost of offloading airfreight has risen almost 600% as staff seek pay that reflects increased workloads and the real risks to their own lives caused by gang violence.
Stephanie Steege, Director of Program at Airlink, says, “The situation in Haiti is deteriorating rapidly and the human need is huge. Unfortunately, it has become a forgotten disaster. This air bridge is critically needed to get aid into Haiti, but we could not have done it without the support of SEKO Logistics and grant funding from USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and the American people.”
The first 2 charter flights supported the movement of air on behalf of CARE Haiti, the Dalton Foundation, Food for the Poor, Partners in Health and the World Health Organization.
To safeguard supplies and local staff, Airlink is not disclosing the exact number of flights or when they will depart but Airlink estimates that it has nearly 200 tons of supplies in the pipeline, which it hopes to move in the coming weeks.