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Project Unified Assistance (PUA) is a US-based humanitarian nonprofit organization advocating to establish a UN operated and regulated airport in the Gaza Strip.

United Nations humanitarian air operations are conducted throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia in areas impacted by conflict and natural disasters. These operations seek to airlift or airdrop desperately needed supplies, aid, and relief items; transport workers and relevant individuals who serve populations with pressing needs; fly locals who are in urgent need of transportation services; facilitate the movement of equipment, necessary for local humanitarian efforts; and establish aerial corridors to serve as lifelines in places lacking security or commercial options for transportation.

Humanitarian Air Operations in South Sudan

When violent clashes erupted in South Sudan (December 2013), the United Nations used its aircraft to relocate non-critical staff from Juba, transfer critical humanitarian aid to areas in need, and evacuate civilians (including foreign nationals) from confrontation zones. The UN has a long history of successfully conducting humanitarian air operations in Southern Sudan.

An airport operated and regulated by the United Nations in the Gaza Strip would provide similar services to Gazans who have been suffering continuously due to a blockade, poverty and the impact of recent destructive wars.

Humanitarian Air Operations in Mali

When violent clashes erupted in Mali over the past few years, the United Nations used its aircraft to transfer critical humanitarian aid to areas in need, and to provide a transport corridor for civilians out of confrontation zones.

An airport operated and regulated by the United Nations in the Gaza Strip would provide similar services to nearly 2 million people who have been living under continuous hardships as a result of the blockade, poverty and the impact of recent massive wars.

Videos of Humanitarian Air Operations

UN Agencies Warn Tens of Thousands on Brink of Famine in South Sudan

22 October 2015

WFP Airdrops, Airlifts Food To Reach Displaced In South Sudan

26 June 2015

WFP Airlifts Children From A Quake-Hit Monastery In Nepal

17 June 2015

WFP Airdrops Vegetable Oil in South Sudan

28 May 2015

Nepal: WFP Delivers Food To Remote Villages In Gorkha District

30 April 2015

WFP Supporting the Medical Response to Stop the Spread of Ebola

21 October 2014

WFP and UNICEF Struggling to Reach People Cut-Off by Conflict in South Sudan

30 September 2014

Goodwill Ambassador Mohammed Assaf on Humanitarian Airlift for Gaza

30 July 2014

Airdrops Bring Much Needed Assistance to Displaced South Sudanese

23 May 2014

WFP launches major airlifts, airdrops for S. Sudan camps

19 May 2014

Airdrops Bring Food To Remote Villages In South Sudan

28 March 2014

WFP Starts Airlifting Food Into Central African Republic 

13 February 2014

WFP Airlifts Urgently Needed Food To Syria From Iraq

6 February 2014

Iraq: UNHCR Airlift Into Syria 

18 December 2013

WFP Airlifts Food To Syrian Refugees In Iraq 

27 August 2013

Food Arrives From Above In Central African Republic

21 September 2012

Humanitarian Fliers UNHAS say thanks! 

22 March 2012

Nutritious food for kids in arrives in Mombasa 

12 October 2011

WFP Logistics

20 March 2011

WFP airlift to Tunisia-Libya border

1 March 2011

Sudan Airdrop 

11 October 2009

United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS)

3 August 2009

Airdrops in The Democratic Republic of Congo

12 June 2009

Pakistan Crisis 

5 June 2009

UN Aircraft (TALCE) in DRC​

29 May 2009

Uganda Airdrop

24 October 2007

Airlifts in DRC 

2 July 2006

Air Drops in Gaza?

Although airdrops are often good tools in helping to alleviate humanitarian suffering in conflict zones, they are not long-term solutions which is why we argue that Gaza needs and deserves it own airport. Attempting to alleviate the suffering with only airdrops will not be enough and is not sustainable.


  • Airdrops can help to alleviate suffering and starvation.

  • Drops would be able to deliver necessary food and basic supplies.

  • Can create pressure to address the humanitarian consequences of the blockade. 

  • Rates of child malnutrition and emaciation can be decreased. 

  • Lives can be saved through basic food and medicine drops. 

  • Can provide short-term relief. 


  • UN involvement can make situation worse (ex: “safe spaces in Srebrenica).

  • Airdrops can miss their targets.

  • Goods can be damaged in landing process.

  • Only a fractions of the supplies needed can be delivered, may not ease suffering.

  • Israeli authorities have tight restrictions on aid deliveries.

  • Planes can be unsafe in uncontested airspace.

  • Conflict may be long term and airdrops will become permanent fixture.

  • Proposals for airdrops may not pass Security Council.

  • Not a substitute for full humanitarian assistance.

  • Once landed, particular pallets may be unaccounted for. 

  • Urban areas have no suitable space from a drop zone. 

  • Airdrops are expensive. 

Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) was a humanitarian assistance program established in 1989 through a consortium of NGOs and UN agencies in order to alleviate human suffering in Southern Sudan (Philpot 2011, 4). The operation was established in response to the human suffering resulting from the Second Sudanese Civil War and was the largest coordinated humanitarian effort of its kind (Grote 2015, 1). OLS made a great impact on Sudan through the operation’s abilities to coordinate with multiple organizations and agencies, negotiate with parties of the conflict, enhance local networks, and address systemic issues to create peace building opportunities (IRIN 2014, 2).

The Terms of the Project

Initially, OLS was to be a short-term relief operation; however, the Sudanese Civil War lasted from 1989-2005, making the operation one of the largest and most complex relief operations in the world. An important aspect of OLS was that it was the first operation in which the UN dealt and negotiated with a non-state armed groups without conferring recognition upon them. The aim of OLS was to deliver sufficient food aid into southern Sudan to feed approximately two million civilians and bring in 100,000 tons of food over the course of 6 weeks before the rainy season made the roads impassable. The project officially launched on 1 April 1989 in Nairobi (Akol 2005, 1).
The following were the terms that formed the basis of Operation Lifeline Sudan:

  • The UN has to deal with all the parties involved in the conflict that control territory through which convoys and relief items pass.  

  • Negotiation with those involved in the conflict to provide safe and unhindered passage and delivery of relief items to the needy population (Akol 2005, 1).


The Objectives and Methods

In order for OLS to be successful, it relied on politically neutral and impartial aid programming, investments in good information systems and analysis, and program assessment and monitoring (Macrae 1996, 6). At the start of the operation, the objective of the OLS was to prevent starvation and decrease rates of death by famine in Bahr el-Ghazal and Southern Kordofan. OLS worked to provide food and relief to populations in high risk and targeted areas. As the operation became better established and the war continued, the operation’s objectives widened. OLS objectives expanded to assist displaced populations as well as provide emergency relief. In 1994 (with revisions in 1995), OLS clearly stated their objectives as follows:

  • Prevent unnecessary suffering and hunger through delivery of essential food items.

  • Decrease morbidity and mortality rates within the civilian population.

  • Assist civilian population to re-establish survival and coping mechanisms.  

  • Restore fundamental social services.

  • Enhance the lives of the people of South Sudan.

  • Promote the rights of civilians impacted by war.

  • Reduce malnutrition.


The Local Food Economies

Taking into consideration what the population's needs are is essential to the effectiveness of the humanitarian programs. For example, OLS found that the needs of those in the Northern Sector were different from those in the Southern Sector of the country depending on the wage labor, agricultural labor, and sharecropping status of each region.

Assessment methods had to be developed in order to get a coherent picture of the ever-changing food security situation in Sudan to accurately understand the underlying causes for issues such as malnutrition and mortality. Before the operation launched, baseline information was gathered on the livelihoods and food security of those living in the impacted regions; however, it can be difficult to develop and maintain the necessary level of in-depth understanding without a field presence on the ground.

The Needs and Aid Requirements

In addition to gauging what type of food and supplies the population needs, a team must also estimate how much is needed. A key component to the success of OLS was estimating the needs of the populations and calculating their food aid requirements. OLS found this task difficult, which highlights the need for on-the-ground field teams who can collect needed information which can be sent back to headquarters. A presence on the ground would make it possible to gauge if supply drops actually reached target populations.


Akol, Lam. “Operation Lifeline Sudan: War, Peace, and Relief in Southern Sudan,” 2005.
Accessed at Conciliation Resources website:

Grote, A. (2015, February 17). Operation Lifeline Sudan. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from


IRIN. (2014, November). Any lessons from Operation Lifeline Sudan? Retrieved June 21, 2016, from

Macrae, J. (1996, November). Conflict, Conditionalities and the Continuum: Key issues
emerging from the Review of Operation Lifeline Sudan - ODI HPN. Retrieved June 21,
2016, from

Philpot, H. (2011). Operation Lifeline Sudan: Challenges During Conflict and Lessons Learned. University of Denver.

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