NATO responds to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020, helping Allies and partners

  • 22 Dec. 2020 -
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  • Last updated: 22 Dec. 2020 12:24

Throughout 2020, NATO and Allied military personnel have been helping save lives by supporting civilian efforts against COVID-19, both in Allied and partner countries. In the first half of this year, some 350 flights delivered critical supplies around the world. Across the Alliance, almost half a million troops supported the civilian response, constructing almost 100 field hospitals, securing borders and helping with testing and transport.

NATO developed a new operations plan to ensure we remain ready to help both Allies and partners.  The Alliance also established a trust fund for the purchase of urgently needed items, and a stockpile of medical supplies. Sixteen Allies have made financial contributions totaling 5 million euros and 5 nations have made in kind contributions to the stockpile. Throughout the autumn, Albania, Czech Republic, Montenegro and North Macedonia received dozens of ventilators and a total of around 1.5 million euros in medical supplies from the stockpile. Some financial contributions are being used to deliver relief to NATO’s hardest-hit partners, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, the Republic of Moldova, Tunisia and Ukraine.

Speaking at the Riga Conference in November, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “NATO Allies and our militaries have been supporting each other and our partners throughout this pandemic – transporting critical medical supplies, patients and experts; setting up military field hospitals and securing borders; supporting civilian efforts and helping to save lives. At the same time, we remain vigilant and ready, because NATO’s main responsibility is to make sure this health crisis does not become a security crisis.”

Since the start of the crisis, NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) has coordinated 22 requests for assistance from NATO and partner countries, as well as the United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Logistics support provided by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has helped Allies and partners achieve economies of scale in purchasing COVID-19 relief material.

NSPA has also helped Allies and partners in transporting urgent relief items to countries using multinational solutions, such as the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) and the Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS) programmes, as well as through commercial chartered flights offered by Luxembourg. In total, around 1,500 tonnes of medical supplies and equipment were transported to Allied countries, including Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and the Netherlands, as well as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany and Poland. NATO and Allies have also helped local authorities in locations where we are deployed, including Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq.

NATO has also worked working closely with other international organisations, including the European Union, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the United Nations World Food Programme.  In July, in response to a  global request by the United Nations for airlift support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UK flights, coordinated by NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, transported a field hospital from Europe to Accra, Ghana. The facility is used for frontline aid workers in the region to help fight the coronavirus pandemic and has the capacity to care for up to 92 people.