HRH Princess Royal On Board World’s Largest Humanitarian Airline

“Very Impressive”: HRH The Princess Royal and Sir Timothy Laurence on board with world’s largest humanitarian airline to meet refugees who have surged in South-West Uganda

On 26th and 27th October, HRH The Princess Royal and her husband Sir Timothy Laurence boarded one of Mission Aviation Fellowship’s [MAF] humanitarian aircraft as part of their four-day tour of Uganda. The couple travelled with MAF from Kajjansi to Mbarara on 26th, then from Kajjansi to Masika the following day. The alternative journeys by land would have meant almost a day’s round-trip along unpredictable – even dangerous roads, but MAF’s trusted air service meant the Princess and her team arrived in just under an hour.

Escorted by MAF’s Country Director Ruth Jack to the aircraft, The Princess Royal enquired about MAF’s work, and Sir Timothy Laurence concluded: “It’s very impressive”. The Princess has previously flown with MAF, most recently in Bangladesh following a cyclone in 2016.

Flying as guests of her patronage charities, the Royal couple visited Nakivale on 26th October, the oldest refugee settlement in Africa coined ‘The best place to be a refugee’ by a BBC media report in 2016. Here, The Princess opened Opportunity Bank Uganda – the first Opportunity Bank in a refugee settlement anywhere in Uganda, which will provide life-changing financial services to refugees – promoting development and supporting entrepreneurs – especially women – to start their own business.

On the 27th October, the Royal couple flew with MAF to Masika near the banks of Lake Albert in the West of Uganda and visited a school in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, where The Princess met children who have fled their homes due to the ongoing conflict in the DRC.

Since August 2022, Uganda has reported at least 92,000 new arrivals; 60,000 of which have fled from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] due to an escalation of violence in the North Kivu province.

MAF has been offering humanitarian flights to support refugees in Uganda since the 1950s and has partnered with organisations including Opportunity International and Save the Children to transport NGO personnel, deliver food, shelter, and medical equipment to IDP camps up and down the country.

MAF’s Country Director Ruth Jack met HRH The Princess Royal during her stay in Kampala and was able to explain MAF’s work. Ruth said:

The last time I met the Princess and her husband was during an event in Edinburgh in 2017 where they witnessed MAF’s virtual reality headsets. We recalled this meeting, and I was able to explain more about MAF’s operations in Uganda.  

It was a real treat to fly the Princess Royal and her husband, both were very engaged and interested in our work. I’m so pleased that the Princess has been able to experience MAF in action and see first-hand the lifesaving work our aircraft enable across Uganda.

MAF flights regularly support Uganda’s growing population of refugees – particularly in the North-West where almost one million South Sudanese people have fled horrific violence and are starting to rebuild their lives. It is encouraging to see the Princess sharing our vision to serve those who are supporting the refugee crisis in Uganda, and MAF will continue being part of the humanitarian response long into the future.

Opportunity International UK Chief Executive, Nana Francois, who accompanied the Princess during her visit to Nakivale, said: “We are hugely grateful for MAF’s support as it saved hours of travel time allowing HRH, The Princess Royal, to spend more time meeting our clients and seeing the life-changing impact of our work.”

Tweeting soon after the second MAF flight, Kate Airey, British High Commissioner to Uganda who accompanied the Royal tour said: “It has been such a help to have the support [of MAF Uganda] on this important visit. They are a lovely organisation doing great work in Uganda.”

Written by: Jo Lamb 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *