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Good morning, this is Paula. In mid-December, taking a break from reviewing technical drafts at the Cop28 climate talks, I visited the vast storage facilities in Dubai run by the World Food Programme, from where aid gets shipped off to displaced people from the Sahel region to Ukraine and Bangladesh. Walid Ibrahim, its network coordinator, told me about the challenges the UN Humanitarian Response Depot faced.

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Paula Dupraz-Dobias


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Walid Ibrahim, UNHRD network coordinator, at the Dubai facility, 11 December 2023. (Geneva Solutions/Paula Dupraz-Dobias)

Ground zero for aid deployment: inside the UN’s Dubai delivery hub. As record numbers of negotiators, government officials, civil society campaigners and lobbyists gathered a few kilometres away at the Cop28 climate conference in mid-December, a handful of employees of the World Food Programme (WFP) worked quietly at a storage hanger in Dubai’s Industrial City set along a multilane highway, in the midst of the desert.

Dubai is the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot ’s main hub, coordinating aid deliveries from UN agencies, governments and NGOs to crises – environmental- and conflict-driven – in a region that has seen little respite in recent years.

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