The first flight of the three operated by the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), carrying on board humanitarian workers and essential supplies to help the country tackle the coronavirus pandemic, landed in Kinshasha Monday.
Also on the flight were a number of high-ranking European politicians, including European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic, as well as the French and Belgian ministers for foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian and Philippe Goffin.
The European officials were expected to meet with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi as well as with humanitarian organizations and civil society in the capital and in Goma, the EU said in a statement.
Commissioner Lenarcic said the EU would be giving Congo €40 million (45 million dollars) in humanitarian funding in 2020.
Commissioner Lenarčič said: “These new EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to the DRC bring emergency aid to help those most in need. Defeating coronavirus in the long-term means working together, in particular with African nations who are our key partners. We are delivering 40 tons of humanitarian cargo in total on board the three flights to the DRC. It is in our common interest to work in solidarity.”
The EU has said that humanitarian needs in Congo are among the highest in the world.
Covid-19 has hit as the country grapples with an Ebola epidemic and outbreaks of both measles and cholera.
Curbing these epidemics is made more difficult because of militias fighting in certain areas of the country and widespread distrust of medical workers.
Since the beginning of May, the EU has organized four other Humanitarian Air Bridge flights – three to the Central African Republic and one to São Tomé e Príncipe. Other flights are in the pipeline, including further flights to Africa, but also to other regions with high humanitarian needs, the EU statement said.
The EU Humanitarian Air Bridge operations form part of the EU’s global response to the coronavirus pandemic within the Team Europe approach. Team Europe’s support to the whole African continent in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic amounts to €3.25 billion. This funding is helping countries strengthen their health system, support their economies in these challenging times, train health staff and reinforce social support systems.