Iraq: First flight to Sulaimaniyah

Iraq: First flight to Sulaimaniyah

Air Serv International expands flight schedule into Iraq in support of MSF-France and other humanitarian NGOs working in Kurdistan

Warrenton, Virginia, 1 February 2008 – In preparation for a new humanitarian flight service linking Amman, Jordan with Sulaimaniyah, Iraq, Air Serv International Country Director Arthur Hussey and his staff on Thursday, 24 January, conducted a preliminary flight to the city of Sulaimaniyah.

Initiated largely due to current program needs in Kurdistan of Médecins Sans Frontières-France (MSF-F – Doctors Without Borders, France), Air Serv International’s new route to Sulaimaniyah will expand the already existing service into Iraq for the international humanitarian aid community. The first regular flight to Sulaimaniyah is planned for 7 February.

MSF-F colleagues met Air Serv’s country director and staff upon arrival and took them to the MSF Hospital, where they toured the surgical facility opened in July 2007 to treat burn victims. Severe burn injuries are frequent and usually due to cooking stove accidents, or explosions occurring in the area as a result of the ongoing Iraqi conflict. The MSF staff works with 17 national doctors and over 300 staff members. Besides performing surgeries, they also provide training to the national doctors and staff in an effort to increase local medical capacity.

Before leaving Sulaimaniyah, Arthur Hussey and staff visited the airport terminal and met with airport personnel, including handling agents and re-fuellers. “The airport facilities at Sulaimaniyah are excellent,” Hussey said, “and we found the ground staff extremely friendly and easy to work with.”

Allen Carney, Air Serv International’s Vice President of International Programs, expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the Iraq Program staff. “Once again, our team has responded to an increasing demand for expansion of access to a population in need,” he said. “The latest addition to Air Serv’s regular flights into Iraq will provide essential aviation support to our key NGO partners and enhance their ability to provide humanitarian assistance in Iraq.”

One of the two largest cities in Kurdistan, Sulaimaniyah lies southeast of Erbil and is spread against a backdrop of mountains. Only eight international aid organizations (NGOs), including MSF, Save the Children UK, and the NGO Coordination Committee for Iraq (NCCI), work in the area.

Air Serv International is a not-for-profit humanitarian aviation organization providing disaster relief, sustainable development, environmental restoration and medical evacuations to those in need.