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South Sudan: A Day In The Life Of A Humanitarian Helicopter

Have you ever hopped on a helicopter to deliver food assistance to South Sudan? We hadn’t either -- But luckily, some of our colleagues in the field have – and they’ve put together a photo diary of a recent mission by the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), showing exactly this. On 17 January, this air operation not only brought much needed food assistance to those affected by conflict in Jonglei State, but it also responded to an unexpected emergency call.

wfp helicopter landed in bor

From a dirt airstrip in Bor, Jonglei State, an ECHO-funded Mi8 helicopter is loaded up with food assistance. It will make two trips on this day to Likongole, a remote village situated in Pibor county, alternating with a stop in between to Pibor town, the epicentre of the conflict. With over 100,000 people affected by recent attacks in Jonglei State, these locations are home to a displaced population in urgent need of humanitarian support.

capitain alexander lomakin smiling as he flies over jonglei stateco-pilot eriks malahovskis speaking into his walkie talkie

Up, up and away -- we’re off to Likongole! Allow us to introduce UNHAS pilots, Captain Alexander Lomakin (left) and Co-pilot Eriks Malahovskis (right).

wfp staff sitting in the body of the helicopter with bags of wfp foodTaking a look Inside the ECHO Mi8, we see that humanitarian cargo and passengers share the space together.
people gathered around the landed helicopter in likongolewfp helicopter landing in likongole

Once in Likongole, the food items are offloaded and WFP prepares for a distribution on the same day.

helicopter crew getting off the helicopteroffloading the food from the helicopter

The helicopter crew stay on the ground for an additional 15 minutes, which allows humanitarian workers to touch base with the community leaders and get an update on the local situation.

pliot flying the helicopteraerial view of impoverished and barren pibor town

Proceeding towards Pibor town, the field hub for the humanitarian emergency response, they make a quick stop here to drop off two aid workers from a partner organization.

wfp staff loading food onto the helicopterone wfp staff member sitting in the back of the helicopter

Once back in Bor, the porters are ready to load the helicopter for another rotation of food to Likongole.

the people of likongole looking distressedthe exhausted faces of the likongole people

Without belongings, many of the people who are returning to Likongole have been walking for days and sometimes weeks without food. Thanks to the food being airlifted in from Bor, WFP is able to provide a 15-day ration of emergency food assistance to all people affected by the attack in Likongole.

wfp technicians checking the helicopterfurther view of the wfp technicians checking the helicopter

After returning to Bor, it is time for the technicians to maintain the helicopter and make sure it is prepared to continue emergency response operations tomorrow.

wfp helping the wounded people off the helicoptera wounded person lying on the floor of the helicopter

Around the same time, an aircraft from the U.N. Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) arrives with seven people who have been evacuated after being wounded in an attack in Duk Padiet, a small village near the Nile river.

UNHAS staff on the ground receive a phone call with an urgent request: the ECHO helicopter is needed for a medical evacuation to bring back four additional wounded people. As the helicopter refuels, the pilots swiftly prepare for the mission at hand.

the helicopter flying back to duk padietwfp helicopter preparing to land in duk padiet

In just a few minutes, the helicopter has already taken off and is on its way to Duk Padiet, aiding civilians wounded by conflict. To see more of the response, please check out this great video showing how we fly food into South Sudan, and this article explaining how WFP is scaling up operations in Jonglei State.

*A special thanks goes to Ahnna in our WFP Juba office for putting together this great photo diary! All above photos credited to WFP/Ahnna Gudmunds

Well done Job

Dear Eric i would like to talke behave of South Sudan people, the job you did in our country with your teem is a wanderful job. that why i realy preciate the job. in SS there is so many people with out any deaily food because of the bloody war did damge to our land and nations. espacially people in Bor velleges they dont have a thing to live on it, i hop if some on go and see what are happing there thy will have an idea what are the situation over there. thanks a gaine for the supprot. from Acuei Riak


Hello Ten tons feeds how many people in a disaster zone? Thank You Eric.

This mission is making an

This mission is making an indispensable difference for innocent populations who are suffering through no fault of their own. This is a commendable work and we salute the sacrifice made by the aid workers, pilots and others who are taking these risks to help people. Well done and God bless!