Inside UNICEF’s Humanitarian Supplies Warehouse
On February 28, four days in to the war in Ukraine, six massive trucks carrying 62 tonnes of life-saving supplies left loading bays at UNICEF’s Supply Division in Copenhagen, Denmark.
UNICEF warehouse staff had hand-packed thousands of individual kits containing medical and obstetrics supplies, wash and dignity supplies, education materials and much more.
Marieme Diallo Toure, Supply Division Technical Specialist, showed us the contents of an Early Childhood Development Kit, which contains more than 40 items that can be used by up to 50 children.
Early Childhood Development Kits are sent to children caught in conflicts and other humanitarian crises around the world.
In March 2022, these kits, along with other education materials and toys, reached children who have taken shelter in 29 underground metro stations in Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second-largest city. Here, UNICEF-supported volunteers set up safe spaces so that teachers and psychologists could work with children on a daily basis.
“As children face uncertainty, it is vital that they have a safe space to play and engage with others, to have some form of normalcy amidst all the turmoil,” says Marieme.
The Supply Division warehouse where Marieme works is the world’s largest of its kind for receiving, storing and deploying humanitarian supplies. At three football fields in size, it is largely automated, stocking 850 different types of items that can be quickly retrieved during emergencies.
Far up in the building’s High Bay storage, eight robots (including “Roberta” and “Robert”) manage up to 36,000 palettes of supplies. The robots know exactly which supplies need to be stored at which temperatures, and they automatically retrieve supplies on a computerized first-in/first-out system.
Supply Division is complemented by regional supply hubs in Brindisi, Dubai and Panama City, as well as logistics staff at UNICEF Country Offices. They work together to plan, procure and deliver the right supplies at the right time, for the most competitive prices, while driving product innovations to meet needs around the world.
Supplies are essential to help fulfil the right to a childhood. UNICEF relies on flexible emergency funding made possible by voluntary donations—like the steadfast support of our generous monthly donors—to ensure that critical supplies rapidly reach the children and families who need them.
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