Canada’s ongoing humanitarian efforts in response to COVID-19 pandemic

News release

June 15, 2020 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic knows no borders, and overcoming this pandemic will require coordinated action around the world to provide support to those who need it most.

Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, announced that in response to a request from the United Nations (UN), the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will provide airlift support to transport urgently needed medical and humanitarian supplies.

The CAF will transport these supplies to and from distribution hubs in Africa, Europe and the Middle East on behalf of the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization. As needs continue to evolve, the CAF will be flexible in its response.

This support comes in response to an urgent request by the UN to help maintain vital supply chains to vulnerable countries. It also complements Canada’s international efforts to address the ongoing pandemic, including by funding international partners providing life-saving humanitarian assistance.


“As long as the COVID-19 pandemic persists in some pockets of the world, no country is safe. That is why international coordination and assistance, financial and otherwise, is crucial to the response to the virus. By deploying these aircraft, Canada will enable our partners to carry out their life-saving work.”

- François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“Canada will always be there to help. As part of the government’s continued efforts to support the international response to COVID-19, the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces will be helping by delivering humanitarian aid and medical supplies to where they are needed the most.”

- Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

“Millions of vulnerable people are in need of help and the COVID-19 pandemic has not changed that; it has simply created additional challenges for us to meet their needs. This airlift support will help fill gaps and complement the work Canada is already doing with its international partners to respond to this pandemic and help save lives.”

- Karina Gould, Minister of International Development

Quick facts

  • The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has issued a global request for military and civil defense assets on behalf of the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization to support and sustain the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Canada has been closely monitoring the development of the distribution hubs and has kept in frequent contact with allies to determine how best to support the UN’s distribution plan.

  • By providing complementary airlift support and humanitarian assistance funding, Canada is supporting a needs-based, coordinated, global humanitarian response currently targeting the most vulnerable countries affected by the pandemic.

  • In 2020, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 168 million people worldwide were identified as needing humanitarian assistance. This number is expected to continue to grow as the impacts of the virus are increasingly felt.

Associated links


Syrine Khoury
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Floriane Bonneville
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-3100

Guillaume Dumas
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Development

Media Relations Office

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