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

This Mi8 helicopter is one of two, based in Kampala, Uganda and funded by ECHO, which are dedicated to enhance emergency response capacities in East Africa. In this photo, the Mi8 has come to support humanitarian response efforts in Jonglei State, South Sudan. WFP/Ahnna Gudmunds

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.

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).

Taking a look Inside the ECHO Mi8, we see that humanitarian cargo and passengers share the space together.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

feeding

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!