DfID uses helicopters only where it is considered essential—either when they are needed for immediate emergency humanitarian response to disasters or when the security situation makes this necessary. Where possible, this is from civilian sources but, if necessary, from the UK military. The most recent humanitarian example was the Government’s response to the earthquake in Pakistan. Our immediate response included providing three helicopters through the Ministry of Defence for a month (for which DfID funded the marginal costs and the MoD the standing costs).
DfID has contributed more than £7 million to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) for helicopter operations and logistical support during the humanitarian response to the Pakistan earthquake. This included the costs of chartering helicopters, the provision of technical personnel and vehicles, and co-ordination activities. DfID provided further funds towards wider relief activities of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which included the use of helicopters and logistical support as a component.
In Iraq, we are using military helicopters to transfer staff from Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) to the International Zone (IZ). This helicopter air bridge is run by UK and US coalition forces. DfID makes a financial contribution to this operation, along with other Whitehall government departments, based on the number of people that we have working in Baghdad.
DfID Uganda helped to hire a helicopter during late 2004 and early 2005 to ferry a peace negotiator to and from rebel positions to help secure peace between the Ugandan Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army. This was the only safe way to travel in a dangerous environment in northern Uganda. The helicopter was hired from a commercial company in Kenya as the cheapest option available at the time and cost £126,347 (funds used were from the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool). For safety reasons, DfID Sierra Leone also uses helicopters to transfer aid workers from Freetown to the local airport.