LATAM Group flies relief items to Southern Brazil

It was a flood of biblical proportions that hit Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil at the beginning of MAY24, following enormous amounts of rainfall. The death toll surpassed 150 people, with more than 100 still missing and over 600,000 displaced. Hence, rapid aid was required to provide those affected with necessities. The LATAM Group initiated its ‘Solidarity Plane Project’ several years ago to deal with emergency situations like this and quickly transport relief supplies to people in need.

LATAM’s solidarity plane flew various relief items from Colombia to Brazil – photos: courtesy: LATAM Group

100 houses = 16 tons
In line with this humanitarian scheme, a B767 freighter from LATAM Cargo took off in Bogota and landed in Sao Paulo Guarulhos on 28MAY24, filled with 100 modular houses weighing 16 tons. Immediately after arrival, the items were trucked to the affected region. The shipment was donated by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), to provide shelter to those whose homes had been washed away by the flood.

Enabling shelter and some privacy
According to the UNHCR, Refugee Housing Units have a lifespan of up to 5 years. The organization uses them on various occasions to shelter people, be this in the case of earthquakes, large wildfires, hurricanes or – as in the Brazilian case – devastating floods. Each unit consists of a lightweight steel frame, roof and wall dividers, doors and windows, floor covering, solar power, LED lighting, and an anchoring system. They were developed collaboratively by UNHCR specialists, the social enterprise, Better Shelter, and the IKEA Foundation. The goal is to enable autonomous, sustainable spaces including some privacy, that are adaptable to different humanitarian emergency contexts, with UNHCR units present in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

The LATAM Group flew 100 of these modular houses to Brazil to provide shelter flood victims. 100 more are to come

Part of LATAM’s ‘Shared Value’ Program
In addition to the folding houses, LATAM’s ‘Solidarity Plane’ has transported a total of 142 tons of donations, free of charge, to southern Brazil since 04MAY24. The shipments consisted of basic food baskets, potable water, disposable diapers, blankets, and other essential items. A team of 102 volunteers, including doctors, nurses, veterinarians, and firefighters, also flew there. The freighter operations were complemented by passenger flights to regional airports in southern Brazil, carrying relief goods in the lower decks of the LATAM fleet. Most donations were financed by Portugal and the United States.
LATAM’s ‘Solidarity Plane Program’ is part of the Shared Value pillar of the group’s sustainability strategy. It seeks to generate value in society through connectivity. Under this scheme, humanitarian alliances in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru were inked, making free expertise, infrastructure and connectivity through tickets and cargo transportation available to the organizations.

Airline as social actor
“At LATAM, we understand that, as a company, we are also a social actor. That gives us rights, but also an obligation to work for the benefit of the societies where we operate. The terrible situation in Ukraine and the consequences of conflict on millions of people, led us to approach UNHCR, and today we are proud to be able to make transportation of refugees, donations, and humanitarian aid available to them and their families in all the destinations of our network,” states Roberto Alvo, CEO of LATAM Airlines Group.
Meanwhile, most of the foldable houses have been erected in the affected areas and assigned to local users. With 100 more to come.

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