The first consignment of humanitarian cargo consisting of COVID-19 medical supplies arrived yesterday at the recently established World Food Programme’s Global Humanitarian Hub in Guangzhou (CAN).
From there, the medical cargo will be shipped to other United Nation World Food Programme (WFP) hubs worldwide, as well as directly to affected countries and regions.
Established earlier this month by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), with support from the Government of China, the hub will support the global COVID-19 emergency response for the international community, including the UN, national governments and other humanitarian partners.
“With its leading manufacturing industry, supply chain expertise and technological innovations, China is uniquely advantaged to host this global humanitarian hub which will play a catalytic role in responding to COVID-19,” says WFP’s country director in China, Sixi Qu.
The hub will provide strategic sourcing and stock consolidation services, as well as facilitate movement of life-saving humanitarian cargo to countries responding to the outbreak. The hub also operates aviation services to transport humanitarian workers.
This hub is part of a network of global humanitarian hubs that WFP is setting up in Liege (LGG) and Dubai (DXB) where supplies are being manufactured – as well as regional hubs in Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, Malaysia, Panama and Dubai.
This hub-and-spoke system will route medical cargo and health workers to the front lines, with flights between global and regional hubs, and a fleet of smaller planes standing ready to move cargo and personnel into priority countries.
To rapidly start up operations, as an interim solution, WFP’s global partner Alibaba has been competitively selected to provide commercial hub services through the Alibaba Cainiao logistics network.
“In the long run, following further discussion with government of China, WFP would like to establish a self-managed hub and gradually develop it into a comprehensive centre supporting humanitarian response, and sharing China’s experience with the rest of world,” says Qu.
As part of a global appeal to raise USD 2.0 billion for the COVID-19 response, launched by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on 25 March, WFP is calling for USD 350 million to set up the logistics backbone for the entire humanitarian community. This includes establishing humanitarian hubs, setting up air bridges to dispatch essential cargo and providing passenger air and Medevac services for frontline workers, and contracting charter vessels for sea transport.