April 2023 Partner Update: Airlink’s Latest Operations
New Zealand – Cyclone Gabrielle
Cyclone Gabrielle impacted New Zealand in mid-February, impacting nearly one-third of the country’s population. Following weeks of the costliest ever extreme rainfall in the country’s history, this cyclone has been the costliest on record in the Southern Hemisphere, causing over US$8 billion in damages, and the deadliest to hit New Zealand since 1968’s Cyclone Giselle. Airlink has supported 45 passenger flights for partners Disaster Relief Australia, Team Rubicon Canada, and RE:ACT. These volunteers are providing debris removal, muck and gut support, and other emergency services to allow impacted communities and families to return to their homes. Thank you to Air Canada for their generous support in getting Canadian responders to New Zealand.
Sri Lanka – Complex Crisis
Following an economic collapse in late 2022, the population of Sri Lanka has been struggling and living standards have decreased with massive inflation, causing basic needs such as food, fuel, and medication to become unaffordable. With support from Qatar Airways, Airlink moved 3.6 metric tons of medical supplies and medications for the Sri Lanka Association of Oregon to provide critical supplies to rural clinics throughout the country for communities unable to afford healthcare.
Vanuatu – Cyclones Judy & Kevin
In early March, Vanuatu experienced Cyclones Judy and Kevin back to back as well as a 6.5 magnitude earthquake. The storms impacted 80% of the nation’s population of 320,000 people, including 125,500 children. While Vanuatu recovers from wide-ranging infrastructure damages, cuts to the supply of clean water on the islands are now causing a surge in waterborne diseases. Airlink supported three flights for partner Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO) to provide key coordination and response development support.
Ukraine – Conflict & Displacement
Airlink remains committed to supporting ongoing humanitarian programs for civilians affected by the war in Ukraine. Throughout the month of March, Airlink continued to support life-sustaining and life-affirming programs across the country, thanks to the generous and sustained support of partners at American Airlines, SEKO Logistics, LOT Polish Airlines, and United Airlines.
- Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure increase civilian’s vulnerability to harsh-winter conditions. Millions of people will lose access to electricity, heat, or running water for several days. Airlink coordinated shipments of winter clothing on behalf of UA Brokers Without Borders, distributed to doctors working in hospitals without access to heat. A shipment of blankets and hygiene kits supported on behalf of Convoy of Hope, and a shipment of essential winter clothing, flashlights, and water filtration systems support on behalf of Unlocking Communities, was delivered to support areas where damaged infrastructure limits reliable access to heat and electricity.
- Access to healthcare continues to be a major gap in the Ukraine response, especially in areas close to the frontlines. Airlink continues to support organizations working to fill identified supply gaps in hospitals and healthcare facilities. In March, Airlink coordinated a movement on PPE and hand sanitizer on behalf of Unlocking Communities. In addition, due to ongoing violence, hospitals continue to see high levels of patients with the need for wound care.
- On behalf of NGO partner, Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC), Airlink coordinated the movement of wound care supplies that will be used for training as well as ongoing treatments.
- Airlink continues supporting passenger flights for NGO partners taking on a variety of interventions in Ukraine and surrounding countries. NGO partners Global Response Management, Hands on Global, and NATAN Worldwide Disaster Relief continue providing critical health care to Ukrainian refugees and IDPs affected by the war. In addition to providing health care, they are also working with Ukrainian health professionals to provide training and increase local capacity.
- IsraAID continues their operation in Moldova providing support to a refugee reception center.
- Protez Hub is working to improve prosthetic care in Ukraine by establishing a specialized prosthetic center and an educational program for professionals working with amputees.
- Airlink also coordinated flights for two volunteers from Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC) who are delivering critical aid to villages on the frontlines of the war.
Mexico – U.S. Border Crisis
Thanks to ongoing support from United Airlines and American Airlines, Airlink provided flights for 4 additional team members on behalf of Solidary Inc. The team continues to respond to the needs of asylum seekers on the US/Mexico border. The team continues to respond to needs in camps by building and maintaining critical WASH infrastructure in Reynosa, Mexico.
Belize – Community Training
Airlink continues to support Empact Northwest’s Belize Emergency Response And Preparedness Program. Airlink supported flights for an 6-person training team in March, thanks to donated miles from Alaska Airlines. In addition, thanks to the support of DHL Express, Airlink coordinated the movement of tactical equipment to accompany disaster response training. In collaboration with the Belize National Fire Service, the National Emergency Management Organization, and local government actors, the program aims to build rescue capabilities, support a new EMS program, maintain a new dispatching program, and support Incident Management training and Emergency planning in Belize.
Peru – Earthquake and Floods
In early March, Cyclone Yaku caused extreme rainfall in northern Peru and Ecuador. In Peru, entire departments were flooded and thousands of homes were destroyed. With support from United Airlines, Airlink coordinated flights for HIAS’ Emergency Operations Manager to Peru. HIAS is responding to Cyclone Yaku, the recent earthquake, and civil unrest in Peru. They are providing affected communities with cash-based interventions and NFI kits.
In the second month following the 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes that hit Gaziantep Province, Airlink continued responding, coordinating passenger and cargo relief flights for NGO partners. With the support of Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines, Airlink has coordinated flights for more than 200 responders.
With millions of people still displaced in Türkiye, food continues to be one of the most pressing humanitarian needs. In response to this, Airlink coordinated 48 volunteers from Humanity First Germany. In coordination with the National Red Crescent Society, Humanity First has established a field kitchen in Belen-Hatay. Airlink’s support allowed them to increase their output of meals from 700 to nearly 12,000 daily.
NGO partners Water Mission, Waves for Water, GlobalMedic, and IsraAID are providing critical WASH support to displaced communities. Their support allows displaced individuals to have access to safe drinking water, basic hygiene, and food.
Responding to the critical healthcare needs of the population, Relief International, International Medical Relief, and Humanity First UK have deployed Emergency Medical Teams and other professionals to assist in mobile clinics and local healthcare facilities. Volunteers are also distributing aid including hygiene kits and medicine to impacted communities.
GAiN is providing shelter support in the cities of Anatakya and Iskenderun whose infrastructure was severely damaged by the earthquakes. In partnership with local partners, they have developed “tiny houses” that serve as alternative shelter options for nearly 400 people. They were also able to provide food and other critical aid to more than 700 people.
Airlink has also coordinated the movement of cargo into provinces across Southern Türkiye to support the communities in need. Over 10 million civilians are still in need of lifesaving humanitarian assistance following the devastation to the region. Thanks to the support of Priority Worldwide Services, Airlink coordinated a charter flight on behalf of UNHCR. The aircraft delivered over 37 tons of needed supplies to Adana, including blankets, shelter items, and kitchenware.
In order to address the acute need for tents and fortified shelter materials in the region, Airlink began coordinating an air bridge in March alongside the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and with the support of Turkish Airlines. This airbridge of 12 flights is now complete, having delivered over 800 metric tons of tents and winterization kits and serving 10,000 families in need.
Airlink continues to facilitate the transport of needed items to Türkiye and Syria with 115 metric tons of relief supplies currently in the pipeline.
Lebanon – Complex Crisis / Health Systems Strengthening
The Lebanese healthcare system continues to struggle to meet the needs of their citizens following the 2020 Beirut explosion that devastated the economy. Since then, needed medical items have required significant international outsourcing to avoid inflated pricing. In partnership with Anera, Airlink coordinated the shipment of medical supplies that will be used for surgical preparation and use. Thanks to the continued support of Qatar AIrways and SEKO, these supplies will be distributed to public hospitals across Lebanon.
Mississippi, U.S. – Tornado Response
On March 24th, an outbreak of severe weather and tornadoes tore through parts of Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. Mississippi was severely affected by a tornado that spanned for 170 miles, causing significant infrastructure damage to hundreds of buildings and leaving at least 25 dead. Airlink immediately responded to transportation needs from NGO partners. Inspiritus is providing debris removal, roof-tarping, and chainsaw services to impacted communities. Minuteman Disaster Relief volunteers are working around the clock to clear roads, downed trees, and debris to make way for rebuilding crews. Thank you to American Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines for making these programs possible.
California, U.S. – Floods Response
Throughout the beginning of 2023, most of the state of California has experienced catastrophic flooding. Thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed due to flood waters and landslides. The Governor of California declared a state of emergency for more than 21 counties, including mountain communities that were heavily impacted by snow. With support from United Airlines, Airlink coordinated travel for Crisis Cleanup who is providing cleanup coordination and leadership to help activate multiple relief organizations.
Louisiana, U.S. – Hurricane Ida Recovery
In partnership with United Airlines, Airlink continues providing support to NECHAMA’s Hurricane Ida recovery program. NECHAMA volunteers are working to help affected communities in Louisiana recover from the devastating hurricane by providing cleanup and rebuilding services.
Florida, U.S. – Hurricane Ian Recovery
Airlink continues providing volunteer flights to NGO partners with long-term recovery programs in Florida. Hurricane Ian damaged thousands of homes and left entire communities displaced. Inspiritus and Missions on Wheels continue supporting impacted communities and volunteers.
Malawi – Cyclone Freddy
Tropical Cyclone Freddy made landfall in Madagascar and Zimbabwe on February 21st before turning back to sea and making a second landfall in Mozambique and Malawi on March 11th. The storm caused widespread destruction in Malawi, leading the government to issue an international call for assistance. More than 500,000 people are displaced as a result of heavy rains. Malawi has been experiencing the worst cholera outbreak in recent history. Displaced individuals are sheltering in overcrowded sites across the country, significantly increasing the risk of cholera and other water-borne diseases. Critical needs include WASH services, shelter, healthcare, and protection. Airlink supported flights for a team of arborists from DART International UK who cleared trees from critical roadways and infrastructure, allowing emergency response teams to get aid to affected communities. Airlink also coordinated flights for IsraAID’s emergency response team that is delivering WASH support to help reduce the spread of cholera in cyclone-affected areas.
Kenya – Health Systems Strengthening
In partnership with the Emirates Airline Foundation, Alaska Airlines, and American Airlines, Airlink coordinated flights for a team of 9 medical volunteers with Mobile Medics International to Kenya. The COVID-19 pandemic caused massive disruptions to the healthcare system. There is a need for more health workers and health staff to increase capacity and productivity and invest in primary and community care. Mobile Medics International is directly responding to these needs by sending a team to relieve some of the strain in the healthcare system in the town of Mogotio in Kenya’s Baringo county. The team consists of doctors, registered nurses, and emergency medical technicians.