Responding during times of conflict can take many forms. Sometimes, this means emergency evacuations from unsafe areas, other times it looks like responding in a slowly building humanitarian disaster caused by the outbreak of war. Whether we're flying NGOs into refugee camps, evacuating displaced people to safety or getting them the medical help they need, MAF is on hand to help.

In April 2023, fighting broke out in Sudan's Capital, Khartoum. The resulting conflict has caused many people to flee Sudan, crossing the borders into surrounding nations. Over 1,000 people are crossing into South Sudan every single day seeking refuge. The humanitarian need is great and resources are slim.

In June 2023, MAF launched a disaster response drawing on our existing South Sudan programme resources and the wealth of experience from our Disaster Response team. Whilst MAF is unable to enter Sudanese air-space, we can respond by helping our humanitarian partners to reach otherwise inaccessible places in the north, particularly the refugee camps at Renk. MAF continues to respond to the ever-increasing need, with multiple flights per week.

Refugee camp in Renk
The refugee camp in Renk. Credit: RRC/Concern South Sudan

Ambassador Aviation (AA), in partnership with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), is flying survivors to safety.
Ambassador Aviation (AA), in partnership with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), is flying survivors to safety. Photo: Dave LePoidevin

As thousands of people in northern Mozambique fled deadly fighting between government forces and an armed group linked to ISIL (ISIS), Ambassador Aviation (AA), in partnership with MAF, evacuated children, families, the wounded, the elderly, and even one pregnant woman in distress.

From 31 March - 12 April, in cooperation with VAMOZ (Voluntários Anónimos de Moçambique), a humanitarian group, we conducted 27 evacuation flights for 219 passengers from Afungi to Pemba. Staff in Pemba noted several happy reunions as new arrivals connected with those who were previously evacuated. For the wounded, an ambulance awaited their arrival in Pemba.

Assisting displaced people in Rwanda 1994
MAF Archive

When Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down in April 1994, Hutu extremists immediately began a ruthless genocide against the minority Tutsi community. Refugees flooded over the Tanzanian border to Ngara where a rapidly growing refugee camp was established. MAF made some initial flights to the area for UN officials and medical relief workers, and was called upon to evacuate Rwandan missionaries. With the scale of need and transport being a major problem, the value of MAF’s services became overwhelmingly clear. 

MAF pilot, John Clifford, located a section of tarmac road 5.5 miles south of Ngara which could be used as a landing strip. Within days, MAF began to help a global disaster response effort that would last many months. MAF rapidly expanded its response to include aircraft from four bases across three countries. Many months of flying and hours of logistics by our ground staff ensued. The Rwandan genocide became known as the most horrific human massacre since the Holocaust.