Every day ‘a new journey’ for UN humanitarian air service employee


Regardless of having been “round plane for therefore lengthy” attributable to her private and household historical past, Rasha admits that she nonetheless will get a “coronary heart flutter” each she watches a aircraft take to the skies.

“It by no means will get odd being right here”, she mentioned.



Like mom, like daughter

Early final yr, Rasha joined the World Meals Programme’s (WFP) UNHAS crew as an Aviation Assistant at Qamishli airport in Syria’s northeast. Previous to that, she’d labored in industrial aviation for seven years.

The younger lady’s ardour for airports goes again to childhood days.

“My mom served on the similar airport for 35 years. I vividly keep in mind her sporting her silver uniform with a white shirt and a silky maroon scarf neatly tied round her neck”, she recalled.

However what fascinated Rasha most was her mom’s devotion.

“Qamishli shouldn’t be an opulent airport because it lacks consolation and catering amenities, so it may be tough to overlook your flight and need to spend the evening right here. My mom assisted everybody she encountered unconditionally and to the very best she might, and I needed to be her at some point”, she mentioned.

Safer, faster journey

Over years of disaster in Syria, battle strains have shifted dramatically, rendering roads linking Damascus to the 2 northern governorates of Qamishli and Aleppo harmful to use.

The skies above turned essentially the most viable means for UN employees and humanitarian employees to journey between the capital and the nation’s north.

And with home airways additional disrupted by the COVID pandemic, the 2020 launch of UNHAS in Syria has offered a vital connection between employees and the individuals it serves – turning a gruelling 16-hour drive into a one-hour flight.

If it wasn’t for UNHAS, humanitarian employees would have confronted many challenges in accessing households in want”, Rasha mentioned.

In the present day, UNHAS in Syria serves 39 totally different humanitarian organizations, not simply UN businesses.

Even with COVID-19 precautions strictly adopted, the airline service transports a mean of 350 passengers on its flights between Damascus, Aleppo and Qamishli.

Humanitarian wants throughout Syria reached unprecedented ranges final yr making it extra vital than ever for employees to quickly and safely attain these in pressing want of help.


WFP/Manal Alkalaji

Rasha works intently with colleagues visiting from Damascus.

‘Humanitarian core’

At first, Rasha was most impressed by the airline’s excessive requirements, self-discipline and punctuality, however then she discovered a deeper that means to it.

“In the future, my passengers had been all onboard for a flight to Damascus and we had been about to shut the gate when a person from one other humanitarian organisation rushed in along with his daughter who was in want of pressing medical evacuation to Damascus”, she recounted.

When Rasha contacted UNHAS administration, she was instantly suggested to delay the flight till the person had finalized his mandatory paperwork.

“My supervisor informed me: ‘Our existence is to serve these individuals, so our gates can’t be shut earlier than them.’ That was the second when I noticed the humanitarian core of my work and it deeply moved me”, mentioned the employees member.

United in delivering

Along with individuals, UNHAS additionally flies lifesaving medical help.

In 2021 the airline transported important medical gear, together with COVID-19 vaccines and mobility aids for individuals with disabilities.

“It was because of UNHAS that UN employees in Qamishli and their dependents had been vaccinated, because the vaccines and specialised medical employees needed to be transported all the way in which from Damascus”, Rasha mentioned proudly.

With the onset of winter, she is aware of that her job shall be more difficult for months to come back however acknowledges the affect of her work every day as colleagues and households are actually nearer collectively than ever earlier than.