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SEATTLE: October 29, 2018. Amazon says it has donated more than US$100 million to charitable organizations via its AmazonSmile programme, a way for customers to support their favourite non-profit when they shop with Amazon, at no extra cost.

Amazon Prime Air Boeing 767To celebrate its fifth anniversary, Amazon has increased the ‘Smile donation rate from 0.5 to five percent of the purchase price on eligible products for over a million charities, including local and national humanitarian organisations, schools, hospitals, cultural organizations and pet shelters.

“Hundreds of thousands of charities have been able to expand their meaningful work thanks to the donations they’ve received through AmazonSmile, and we want to say thank you to customers who are supporting important causes every time they shop,” said Jeff Wilke, Amazon CEO Worldwide Consumer. “We appreciate all the positive feedback from customers who say they love having a simple way to help support their favourite charity.”

Last week Amazon reported a 29 percent rise in net sales for its third quarter to US$56.6 billion; an operating income of US$3.7 billion compared to US$347 million in the same period last year; and a net income of US$2.9 billion – up from US$256 million year-on-year.

Net income for the first nine months of 2018 was US$7.04 billion compared to US$1.17 billion for the same period in 2017.

BALIKPAPAN, Indonesia: October 07, 2018. Turkey and Britain have responded to requests from Indonesia for specific aid following the earthquake and tsunami on September 28 that has so far claimed an estimated 1,600 lives and severely injured a further 2,500.

At the behest of the Turkish Red Crescent and Indonesian government, the two NATO members have delivered humanitarian aid by C130 Hercules and A400M Atlas aircraft to the international relief centre at Balikpapan, a port city on the island of Borneo.

Indo aid Turkey Armed ForcesAccording to UN and governmental agencies, over 65,000 homes have been damaged leaving 330,000 people without shelter and 71,000 people displaced.

In addition, due to the damage to infrastructure, roads and bridges in certain areas are reported to be no longer accessible. Early assessments also indicate that survivors have no access to running water or electricity.

Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) teams were some of the first responders deployed to central Sulawesi covering the regions of Donggala, Palu, Parigi, Kasimbar and Tobolf,

The TRC has now delivered 30 tons of humanitarian aid consisting of 200 family tents, 200 family hygiene kits, 200 baby Kits, 200 Kitchen sets, 2,000 sleeping bags, 2,000 blankets and 5,000 boxes of medicines.

The first RAF Atlas aircraft carried over 20 tons of aid from Britain - including 1,280 shelter kits and 288 hygiene kits - as part of £6 million pledged by the UK Department for International Development and members of the British public.

The shipment also included a forklift and conveyor belt, trucks and a lighting tower generator to assist in the fast turnaround of aid flights at Balikpapan Airport.

On October 04 Deutsche Post DHL (DPDHL) responded to a request from the Indonesian government to deploy two of its Disaster Response Teams (DRT) to provide logistics support in collaboration with local staff and humanitarian organizations.

Indo 1 aid UKOne team is located at Balikpapan Airport (left) and the other at a distribution centre close to the airport to handle and store relief goods.

“The situation in Palu is still dire with power outages, water shortages and increasing reported incidents of looting,” explained Carl Schelfhaut, GoHelp manager Asia Pacific for DPDHL. “Due to a collapse of the tower at Mutiara SIS Al-Jufrie Airport, only very small propeller aircraft and military airplanes can land. That is why Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman Airport in Balikpapan is being set up as the main humanitarian relief hub where sourcing and sorting of incoming relief goods will take place.

“With the airport in Palu ready to receive goods, the Indonesia National Armed Forces, along with selected foreign forces from countries like Australia, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Singapore, are ferrying C-130 and C-17 aircraft from Balikpapan to Palu. These aircraft will serve the dual purpose of transporting aid to Palu and then returning with evacuees. The DRT will be on-site in both locations to assist with ground handling,” he added.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says a total of 1.5 million people have been affected by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami and is requesting US$50.5 million in aid from donors. This latest disaster follows a series of earthquakes in August that struck the Indonesian island of Lombok where more than 340,000 people remain displaced.

WILMINGTON, NC: September 23, 2018. UPDATE: The American Red Cross says it received US$4 million from Walmart/Sam's Club and its customers in just four days following the launch of a donation website by the company that matched every US$1 donated with US$2.

The money has enabled the Red Cross to send over 3,600 aid workers to help shelter, feed and comfort people in large portions of South and North Carolina. As rivers continue to rise and crest, many more people are expected to need help for an extended time. 

Following landfall by Hurricane Florence, over 20,000 people sought refuge in 150 Red Cross shelters across North and South Carolina.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety reported power outages affecting over 420,000 homes, over 2,600 rescues of humans and animals, and declared 18 counties in the eastern part of the state as disaster zones.

Red Cross North CarolinaThe UPS Foundation responded with a donation of US$1 million to support recovery efforts ranging from rebuilding to personal and financial recovery assistance.

Help includes providing humanitarian logistics expertise to the Red Cross and FEMA to deliver needed supplies and coordinate support with multiple partner agencies.

“Over the long-term, additional assistance will be required to help transform affected communities into resilient neighbourhoods,” said UPS Foundation president Eduardo Martinez.

UPS is also working with the CDC Foundation, Good360, NVOAD, Operation Hope, SBP (Saint Bernard Project), The Salvation Army, ToolBank Disaster Services and United Way.

The Norfolk Southern Foundation says it has donated US$100,000 to assist recovery efforts with $50,000 to the Red Cross and $50,000 to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

“Many of our Norfolk Southern employees, facilities, and customers are located in these affected areas, and Red Cross and food bank recovery efforts are timely and vital,” said James Squires, NS chairman, president and CEO. “We want our employees, customers, and community neighbors to know that Norfolk Southern is there to help where it’s needed most.” NS employs 1,245 rail staff and operates over 1,187 miles of track in the state.

Within three days of the hurricane's landfall, the North Carolina Department of Transportation asked the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration to make the 32,000-tonne RoRo vessel Cape Ray, part of  its Ready Reserve Force, available to transport supplies to relieve the coastal city of Wilmington NC that was completely cut off by floodwater.

The ship sailed from Jacksonville, FL to Morehead City, NC where it was expected to load trucks carrying food, fuel and construction material for distribution to Wilmington and the surrounding area, said NC secretary of Transportation Jim Trogdon.

For the latest news on project cargo and breakbulk operations in the Americas – including information on the humanitarian logistics response to Hurricane Florence – the annual Breakbulk Americas conference and exhibition takes place October 2-4 in Houston. Click for more details: Breakbulk Americas

DUBAI: August 23, 2018. Emirates SkyCargo has begun delivering 175 tons of humanitarian aid donated by UAE businesses to Thiruvananthapuram Airport, India in response to severe flooding in the state of Kerala that has killed over 400 people and displaced a million more.

The goods, including lifesaving boats, blankets and dry food, will be handed over to local flood relief agencies and NGOs - including Christian Aid that warns such floods will become normal if more is not done to tackle climate change.

As efforts continue to help people sheltering in over 3,000 relief camps across the state, Christian Aid climate change specialist Kat Kramer said the flooding was a wake-up call to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "Science tells us that India and South Asia can expect more flooding events like the ones we're seeing in Kerala, as global warming continues,” she explained. “In the Tropics we can expect more than a 10 percent increase in precipitation for [every] degree Celsius increase in temperature.

EK Kerala floods"These kind of events are a warning to us all of the scale of climate crisis we are facing. The idea of more than a million people being displaced by floods is shocking, and rightly so, but if we don't act to reduce our emissions then these kinds of disasters will become more frequent,” she continued.

As well as Kerala, damage has also been reported in the areas of Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Nagaland and Karnataka.

The European Union says the floods are the worst to have hit Kerala in almost a century and have damaged or completely destroyed at least 20,000 homes. More than 10,000 kilometres of roads have been submerged or buried in landslides, while power and communication systems have been severely disrupted.

With the full extent of the damage yet to be realised as search and rescue operations continue, the EU has allocated €190,000 to the Indian Red Cross Society to benefit 25,000 people in some of the worst hit areas of the state. The support will used to distribute essential shelter and household items including tarpaulins, kitchen sets and mosquito nets – the latter to counter outbreaks of vector-borne diseases including dengue, chikungunya and malaria.

Last year the Dubai government announced its International Humanitarian City (IHC) would add 27,000 sq.mt. of warehousing to support the Red Crescent, UNHCR, ICRC and the WFP better pre-position stocks of food, shelter equipment and medicine.

Founded in 2003, the IHC is the world's largest humanitarian logistics hub and is currently used by nine UN agencies, including the WFP, plus 50 NGOs and businesses working in the aid sector.The facility provides cold storage for perishables and medical supplies, an office complex, facilities management, Customs clearance, and registration for humanitarian organizations and commercial companies.

Thiruvananthapuram Airport, which has handled a reported 480 additional flights in the past eight days as a result of the crisis, is a four-hour flight from the IHC and its UN resources.

ATLANTA: April 13, 2018. The UPS Foundation has awarded grants and in-kind support of over US$16 million to non-profit, NGOs and United Nations agencies for humanitarian relief, community resilience and safety programs worldwide.

In 2016 UPS says it invested nearly 2.7 million volunteer hours and more than US$116 million in global communities.

In addition to providing support for disaster response, preparedness and recovery, supply chains and improving global road safety, the UPS Foundation is expanding its work with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and Zipline, a California-based robotics company, to deliver life-saving blood, medicines and vaccines to remote communities in Rwanda via drone.

ZIPLINE droneSince October 2016 the partnership has made more than 4,000 drone deliveries of over 7,000 units of blood to remote hospitals across the country. As a result of its success, “the world’s first national medical drone delivery network” is being extended throughout Rwanda this year.

“This groundbreaking partnership with Gavi and Zipline provides access to life-saving medical supplies in only minutes rather than hours for millions of men, women and children in need,” said Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation. “With this expansion, the reach of the drone program will double from six million to 12 million people across Rwanda. Additionally, the initiative will expand to deliver basic medications, vaccines, and medical supplies to hospitals and health clinics via drone.”

Gavi will also receive US$290 million in the U.S. 2018 Fiscal Year Appropriations Bill that will be used to help immunize 300 million more children between 2016 and 2020, and prevent five to six million additional deaths. The U.S. was one of the original six donors supporting Gavi’s launch in 2000 that also included a US$750 million five-year pledge from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Gavi is grateful to the United States for continuing to invest in vaccines, one of the most cost-effective ways to save lives, improve health and ensure long-term prosperity,” commented CEO Dr. Seth Berkley.

Tanzania has announced it would launch the world’s largest drone delivery service with Zipline in the first quarter of 2018, with a planned 2,000 flights day to over one thousand health facilities across the country.

Zipline has also launched what it claims is the world’s fastest commercial drone capable of flying at a top speed of 128 km/h, with a round trip range of 160 kilometers carrying up to 1.75 kilos of cargo. The company says the new airplane is capable of flying four times faster than the average quadcopter drone and can serve an area 200 times as large.

FARNBOROUGH: July 18, 2018. Airbus and International SOS, a medical and security risk services company, have signed an MoU to study the viability of using drones to deliver medical supplies.

Airbus UASThe two organisations intend to collaborate on drone delivery for hub-to-hub or ship to shore distribution of medical cargo for emergency evacuation or medical resupplying.

Under the agreement, Airbus will help to define the viability of using unmanned aircraft for medical cargo deliveries as part of International SOS MedSupply services.

MedSupply deploys medical supplies, specialist medical care and equipment to meet the requirements of preventive health programmes or in support of a medical emergency in urban or remote locations.

“We hope to develop a viable business partnership where we can assist International SOS with unmanned medical cargo delivery,” said Dirk Hoke, Airbus Defence and Space CEO. “This means using our cutting edge technology to potentially save lives, and transform the medical and travel security industry,” he added. A pilot programme is being explored in Singapore and Indonesia with local civil aviation and maritime authorities.

International SOS chairman and CEO Arnaud Vaissié said: “Bringing together the Airbus expertise in securing aerial deliveries, and our global infrastructure assisting clients worldwide, is a clear move towards a greater efficiency.”

Pictured left to right: Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, and Arnaud Vaissié, CEO of International SOS.

SANA'A, Yemen. February 12, 2018. Prior to disbursing US$1.0 billion in humanitarian aid to Yemen next month, Saudi Arabia and the UAE recently arranged the shipment of four 60-tonnes capacity mobile cranes from Dubai to Yemen's Hodeidah Port to help the World Food Programme (WFP).

The cranes, purchased by the U.S. Agency for International Development and shipped on the WFP-chartered vessel MV Juist from Jebel Ali Port, were urgently needed to boost the capacity of Hodeidah, which handles around 70 percent of Yemen's imports including critically-needed food and humanitarian supplies.

YEMEN Mobile cranes 2U.S. Embassy spokesman in Yemen Clayton McCleskey said the additional crane capacity reduces vessel discharge time by 50 percent to allow food and medicine to be distributed faster.

As a result of the protracted war, more than 22 million people in Yemen now need humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million who are in acute need – an increase of more than one million people since March 2017.

"We are grateful to the U.S. government for funding these cranes, the U.S. and UK governments for continuing to draw attention to how important they are, and to all our partners whose collaboration and support ultimately helped us get them into Yemen," said WFP executive director David Beasley.

WFP has been feeding nearly seven million people in Yemen since August 2017 and despite the Trump Administration  the U.S. has provided nearly US$768 million in humanitarian assistance to help the Yemeni people since October 2016.

The UN under secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock said US$930 million from Saudi Arabia and the UAE would be transferred by the end of March in support of a US$2.96 billion Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan; both countries have agreed the funds will only be used for aid purposes.

The two nations will provide an additional US$70 million to support port rehabilitation and infrastructure in Yemen as part of the Yemen Comprehensive Humanitarian Operations Plan announced by the Saudi-led coalition in January this year.

ADDIS ABABA: June 06, 2018. Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of its 100th aircraft today, a B787 carrying medical supplies from Seattle-based NGO Direct Relief for the St. Paulos Hospital in Addis Ababa

ethiopian 100Direct Relief is now the seventh largest non-government organisation in the US according to Forbes Magazine with US$1.1 billion in donations last year for the first time since its foundation in 1948.

For its fiscal year July 2016 through June 2017, the charity supplied essential medications, vaccines, instruments and supplies via 13,554 deliveries to all 50 US states and 86 countries.

Activities included US$129 million to more than 1,300 health centers and clinics throughout the US; prepositioning emergency medical supplies along the US Gulf Coast and Caribbean prior to the 2017 hurricane season; providing doctors in Syria with a chemical weapons antidote after a series of attacks; and supporting Yemeni hospitals to combat an outbreak of cholera.

Since 2009 Direct Relief has provided more than US$4.4 billion in medical resources to help low-income people in 115 countries and 50 US states - where it is the only NGO to hold ‘Verified-Accredited Wholesale Distributors’ certification for pharmaceuticals.

DUBAI: February 11, 2018. The Humanitarian Logistics Databank, an information-sharing platform for aid agencies, has been launched by Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, chairperson of the International Humanitarian City (IHC).

Announced on the first day of the World Government Summit 2018 in Dubai, the service will enable the collection and sharing of data in real-time on prepositioned aid and humanitarian assets to make emergency response more timely and cost-efficient.

World government summitIn its first phase, the databank will gather information on aid shipments from Dubai during 2018 and then be replicated in other humanitarian hubs around the world by January next year.

With automated tracking of aid based on multimodal Customs data, the new resource is expected to provide the humanitarian community with information on the exact positioning of critical relief items including food, medicine and shelter to improve collaboration and help avoid bottlenecks at ports and airports.

"The lives of millions of people depend on the global humanitarian community and we believe that this much needed platform will dramatically help improve international aid and emergency response," said the princess. "The Humanitarian Logistics Databank will help build greater cooperation among aid providers and improve productivity and efficiency. This is a home-grown innovation that will serve people from all around the region and the world at times when they need it most."

Designed by a team of specialists at the IHC in Dubai led by CEO Giuseppe Saba, former head of the United Nations' Humanitarian Response Depots, the databank is expected to enable the global aid community process the latest information on available assets locally, regionally and internationally.

The World Food Programme, the World Health Organisation, the UN Refugee Agency, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, UNICEF and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), have also provided support for the new initiative.

The princess said the launch of the databank is in response to a level of demand for humanitarian aid not seen since World War II. According to the UN, some 136 million people across the world now require humanitarian assistance and protection.

According to Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, chairman of the Emirates Red Crescent, last year the aid organization spent AED243.6 million on helping Syrian refugees and providing humanitarian aid support in the Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Mexico.

Pictured: Chairperson of the International Humanitarian City Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE vice president and Ruler of Dubai.

WASHINGTON, DC: May 10, 2018. Airlink is a rapid-response humanitarian relief organisation that links more than 35 commercial and charter airlines with over 80 international non-profits.

During Hurricanes Irma and Maria last year, Airlink facilitated the transport of 150 relief workers and 122,000 pounds of cargo via two charter flights and six scheduled services to Puerto Rico (PR), the U.S. Virgin Islands, Sint Maarten, Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica.

Spirit Airlines assisted Rise Against Hunger and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in transporting over 9,000 meals, 2,200 hygiene kits, 2,000 tarps for immediate shelter repair to Sint Maarten; United Airlines helped AmeriCares deliver nearly three tons of medicine and supplies to Saint Thomas to help the injured; and JetBlue Airways enabled Airlink support Waves for Water provide portable water filtration systems in Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases and life-threatening dehydration.

Anna Scarbriel, director of Grants and Programs at the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands explains: “We really feel like we have received an outpouring of support. It’s something that keeps us going because it does get really tiring, and you know we’re kind of stuck in this and living this, and to have people who have new energy - like Airlink and its partners - to come in and say, ‘We haven’t forgotten [you], and we want to be part of this, and we’re in it for the long haul."

Airlink humanitarian aid airliftWith transportation provided free or at reduced cost, non-profits were able to direct their limited resources to better help the hurricane-affected communities, according to John Lyon, president and CEO of World Hope International: “As well as being able to access the countries affected, the transportation savings allowed us to purchase more of the items urgently required by people affected by the hurricanes. Specially, because of Airlink and the support of the airlines, we bought a lot more generators and other relief supplies than we would have been able to if also paying for transportation.”

Jason Chernock, Acting COO of MedShare adds: “The cost savings have allowed us to do more than we normally could have. Moving goods for free or at reduced cost in the initial part of the response means we still have funds available to move lifesaving products into Puerto Rico, and continue to support patients and healthcare professionals on the island.”

However Airlink’s programmes are about more than just cost savings. To maximise impact and reach the greatest number of people in need, the organisation also seeks to address complex logistical challenges and ensure that the right items reach affected communities. This demands both effective prioritisation during the response, andpreparedness efforts in advance of the disaster says Liz Bloomfield, Airlink director of Humanitarian Programs.

Airlink recently completed an after-action review of its response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria and realised the need to increase preparedness levels and improve logistics contingency planning: “The operational plan in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma was based on a hub in San Juan, PR but had to be rapidly relocated to serve Dominica and the Lesser Antilles via Barbados as Hurricane Maria, now heading for the island, strengthened into a Category 5 storm,” she explains.

Moving from a reactive to predictive approach to aid logistics, Airlink has now developed six regional response plans for different parts of the world and identified areas where its needs additional partnerships, increased logistics capacity - and improved procedures.

One of these plans focuses specially on Latin America and the Caribbean where it recognizes the need to not only bring together airline and non-profit organisations but also engage with national and regional actors such as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

Executive director of CDEMA Ronald Jackson agrees: “We highly value the support provided by the private sector - including airlines given the existing challenges [of] disaster response in the aftermath of hurricanes. Building and maintaining strong relationships with a range of actors is an important part of CDEMA's strategy to foster better preparedness and to support regional resilience on the whole, so we can act collectively when a disaster occurs.”

Mike Oslansky, United Airlines’ director of U.S. Cargo Operations adds: “With last year’s hurricanes occurring back-to-back-to-back, we are fully committed to ramp up our efforts around preparedness.”

Bloomfield says there is much the air cargo industry, non-profits and other relevant actors can learn from
 recent humanitarian responses in order to implement a more proactive and collaborative approach to prepare
for emergencies: “Support from aviation partners, and a collective understanding of [the] unique challenges in these vulnerable areas, is crucial to an efficient and productive response effort." 

DENVER: January 09, 2018. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, fires and freezes claimed the lives of over 362 people and cost the U.S. a record US$306 billion in 2017.

The previous record of US$214.8 billion was in 2005 following the impact of hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Since 1980 the U.S. has sustained 219 weather and climate disasters that have cost the country over US$1.5 trillion.

NOAA disaster map 2017The biggest events in 2017 included the western U.S. wildfires that caused US $18 billion in damage — triple the previous record. Losses from Hurricane Harvey exceeded US$125 billion, which ranked second only to Hurricane Katrina as the costliest storm in the 38 years. Hurricanes Maria and Irma had total damages of US$90 billion and US$50 billion respectively. Maria now ranks as third costliest weather and climate disaster on record for the nation.

According to scientists from the NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, 2017 was the third warmest in 123 years, with the five warmest all occurring since 2006.

Reinsurer Munich Re said Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and the severe earthquake in Mexico cost the insurance industry a record US$135 billion last year. When including uninsured losses the total rose to US$330 billion – only the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan was more at US$354 billion.

"For me, a key point is that some of the catastrophic events, such as the series of three extremely damaging hurricanes, or the very severe flooding in South Asia after extraordinarily heavy monsoon rains, are giving us a foretaste of what is to come," said Munich Re Board member Torsten Jeworrek. "Because even though individual events cannot be directly traced to climate change, our experts expect such extreme weather to occur more often in future."

Some 2,700 people lost their lives in 2017 following the South Asia monsoon that covered the Terai lowlands in Nepal, where almost half of the Nepalese live, as well as certain Himalayan provinces of India. In some districts, 75 percent of the land was under water. Only a small fraction of the US$3.5 billion in losses was insured, according to Munich Re.

Prompted by the record cold temperatures along the U.S. east coast during the first week of January, Donald Trump observed in a tweet: "In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year's Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming."

This week Trump hinted he might reconsider reversing his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement while announcing plans to open up U.S. territorial waters to offshore drilling for oil and gas.

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