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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Lifeline in the sky: EU Humanitarian Aid Flight service in eastern DRC

How does the EU deliver humanitarian aid to hard-to-reach areas? Through its EU Humanitarian Aid Flight, which enables the safe transport of humanitarian cargo and staff.

For several years, the EU has been funding a humanitarian flight service in North and South Kivu, and Tanganyika provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The region has been experiencing bouts of serious insecurity for over 20 years. A recent upsurge in violence has worsened the humanitarian situation.

In 2022 alone, the EU Humanitarian Aid Flight has transported over 100 tonnes of vital humanitarian cargo, such as nutrition and medical supplies, and over 7,600 staff into remote and isolated communities.

Operations have been carried out through the MI-8 transport helicopter and Caravan fixed-wing airplane, rented from the UN’s flight services.

Group of people in front of a helicopter.
Maintaining the EU Humanitarian Aid Flight service is a team effort, from the pilots to the ground crew. This daily flight service enables the transport of cargo and humanitarian workers to isolated communities in the eastern DRC.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Pierre Tripon)
Partial view of a helicopter, the EU flag on one of the doors.
The Mi-8 transport helicopters can transport cargo and passengers, providing a flexible and fast transport option. Alternative road transport would take many hours and pass-through areas made dangerous due to the presence of armed groups.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Mathias Eick)
2 people inside the helicopter passing a parcel to each other.
In 2022, the EU Humanitarian Aid Flight service transported over 100 tonnes and 7,600 humanitarian staff to remote locations in the eastern provinces of the DRC.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Mathias Eick)
Aerial view of Goma.
Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, is the heart of the humanitarian flight services. Daily flights provide a vital humanitarian air bridge to many rural communities which need humanitarian assistance.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Mathias Eick)
Aerial view of mountains, in the foreground a village and land.
In the mountains east of Goma, this large number of white plastic shelters indicates a camp for displaced persons. These villagers have fled their homes due to the fighting between rebel groups and government forces.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Justus Rinnert)
A row of people passing parcels to unload a helicopter which is shown in the background.
Once on the ground, cargo must be off-loaded quickly. These humanitarian flights are in high demand, so time is critical. Other communities still need to be reached.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Mathias Eick)

Story by Mathias Eick, Regional Information Officer for East and Southern Africa, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Publication date: 03/02/2023