Global insight

A house demolished by the Nepal earthquakes

Uplift for Nepal’s earthquake victims

IN THE wake of a disaster comes the groundswell of public sympathy.

As the full horror unfolds in news footage and column inches detailing the death toll, the injuries, the geographical devastation, an outpouring of grief galvanises onlookers into positive action, writes Thelma Etim.

Some reach for their credit cards whilst others donate basic provisions such as biscuits and baby clothes. Individuals stage or take part in charity events to raise funds through charitable acts of endeavour. In the face of such desperation, the milk of human kindness is called upon far and wide.

Sadly, governments tend to be more circumspect about such acts of caring. Some more than others regularly attract international opprobrium because the size of their donations do not reflect the upward trajectory of their economies. In short, they are downright miserly.

So what happens when the news cycle moves on to the next ‘breaking news’ story? The survivors are left to piece their lives together, this time without the world watching and it is usually at this point that the outpouring of support slows, rather predictably, to a trickle.

Throughout the days, weeks and months after any disaster somebody, somewhere is tasked with organising the transport for the equipment and provisions, which needs to be conveyed from one part of the world to another as quickly as possible.

Enter, air cargo. Governments and charities often turn to the commercial air transportation community for assistance, in particular the airfreight sector.

Not many people are aware that the air cargo and logistics industries have an excellent record of uplifting humanitarian aid to those in need around the world free of charge.

This week, Qatar Airways Cargo revealed it transported 5.3 tonnes of aid from the UK to earthquake victims in Nepal, via its hub at Doha-based Hamad International Airport, last month.

The provisions, including baby milk, high-protein rice meals, toys, saucepans, sleeping bags, blankets and duvets, were collected by several of the Gurkha charities patronised by television actress and campaigner Joanna Lumley – who is leading the UK’s aid appeal for Nepal.

Two devastating earthquakes hit the south Asia landlocked country in April and May of this year, leaving almost 9,000 people dead and more than 22,000 injured. Some three million people have been displaced and 800,000 houses destroyed or damaged, says the UN.

The city centres in the worst affected districts are in ruins and many frontline government services have been disrupted resulting in hundreds of thousands of livelihoods being lost.

Qatar Airways Cargo was the first commercial carrier to reach Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu, with international aid, says the airline which thus far has sent a total of 22 humanitarian freighters shipments to the disaster zone.

Ulrich Ogiermann, chief officer of cargo at the airline,  comments: “We are always looking for ways to give back to the international community and we take our corporate responsibility very seriously.

“We played an active role in the transportation of aid to Nepal in the weeks immediately following the earthquake and we were glad to have the opportunity to continue supporting the Nepalese people by transporting this shipment on behalf of Ms Lumley and the charities she works with in the UK.”

The Middle East airline also received an award from the Nepal Freight Forwarders Association (NEFFA) last month for lifting the highest tonnage of cargo from the country during 2014.

Air Cargo Eye welcomes the opportunity to cover any humanitarian endeavours made by air cargo operators.

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