Airlink, Bell Helicopter deliver disaster relief to remote regions in Haiti

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Relief supplies are loaded into a Western Global MD-11 in Miami for distribution to the hardest hit areas of Haiti via Bell Helicopters.

PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI – After landing a Western Global MD-11 freighter carrying 175,000 pounds of relief supplies in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, Airlink, in partnership with Bell Helicopters, is today delivering the time-critical supplies of food, medicine and medical personnel to regions that have been cut off due to infrastructure damage wrought by Hurricane Matthew a month after it came ashore.

With cholera cases now being reported along Haiti’s southern, hard-to-access coast, aid organizations in the region are calling for more international aid.  According to United Nations and local government reports, the hurricane affected 2.1 million people on the island nation, 1.4 million of whom require humanitarian aid. About 750,000 Haitians currently require “urgent help,” per the United Nations, and more than 175,500 of these are considered “displaced.”

As an aviation-focused disaster relief organization, Airlink works with dozens of partners across the aviation and logistics sector to consolidate relief efforts and ensure that donated equipment and other support is used as efficiently as possible. In its current Haiti relief efforts, the organization has pooled assistance from companies, such as Bell, to transport relief for NGOs that already have an established footprint on the ground, and that can direct food and aid to the most pressing cases.

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One of the helicopters donated by Bell delivers medical personnel and relief supplies.

Currently, Airlink is working with groups including Americares, MAP International, Medshare and Team Rubicon, which operate locally informed distribution networks.

The massive storm, which struck on Oct. 4, killed at least 1,000 Haitians and caused widespread flooding and mudslides. The storm also wiped out road infrastructure and buildings, and caused electricity and water shortages. The southern coast, and much of the country, also experienced total loss of crops, which has pushed the largely agrarian country towards extreme food shortages. In some regions, residents are reduced to eating fallen fruit due to food shortages.

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Some of the 170,000 pounds of relief supplies that arrived yesterday in Port au Prince.

But unlike past disasters that struck the island, Hurricane Matthew is failing to generate the level of public interest and charity of preceding disasters, Airlink said. Be it donor fatigue following widely publicized failures of aid organizations in 2010, or the current fixation by the American public and the world at large on the upcoming elections, aid is falling far short of the required levels. One large NGO raised US$66 million dollars in the weeks following the 2010 earthquake that struck the island. Almost a month after Hurricane Matthew, the same organization has raised approximately $500,000. “It’s night and day,” said Airlink’s executive director, Steve Smith.

For more information, visit Airlink’s Hurricane Matthew page.

Air Cargo World‘s parent, Royal Media, is a charitable supporter of Airlink. This report was made possible, in part, as a result of logistical support provided by Alaska Airlines.

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