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Calgary businessman provides drones for Ukraine humanitarian efforts


The drones being provided are for humanitarian purposes including search and rescue and delivering medical supplies.

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A local businessman has made a half-million-dollar donation to help get medical and search-and-rescue drones to the front lines in Ukraine.

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Riaz Mamdani has founded DroneAid in an attempt to get 200 unmanned aircraft to assist in the conflict in Europe. As of Saturday, one drone was operational in Ukraine, with five more expected to be delivered and used by the end of next week.

“For the last several weeks, whenever I watch the news or read the newspaper, the devastation, the horror, the helplessness of the people in Ukraine was upsetting,” said Mamdani. “I really didn’t have anything I could do other than contribute money to the various causes to help people in Ukraine and I did all of that. Then as I sat back, I decided to think about what else can we do and put together the concept of providing and supplying drones to be used in the Ukraine.”

Ukraine has been under attack by Russian forces for months, with millions of women and children being displaced from their homes.

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DroneAid and Mamdani have since provided $500,000 to help get the 200 drones, made by Draganfly, to Revived Soldiers Ukraine, a non-profit organization that assists wounded Ukrainian soldiers.

A Draganfly drone is seen in Ukraine. Calgary businessman Riaz Mamdani is providing financial aid to DroneAid to get 200 of the medical drones delivered to the war-torn country.
A Draganfly drone is seen in Ukraine. Calgary businessman Riaz Mamdani is providing financial aid to DroneAid to get 200 of the medical drones delivered to the war-torn country. Photo by Submitted

Mamdani said the drones being provided are for humanitarian purposes, including search-and-rescue operations and the delivery of medical supplies. The search-and-rescue drones use thermal vision to find chemicals or soldiers on the ground, while the medical drones can carry up to about 20 kilograms worth of medical supplies per trip to the front lines.

Iryna Vashchuk Discipio, president of RSU, said in a news release that Ukraine needs the world’s help and that drones are crucial to saving lives.

“While we have acquired a small fleet, we need more as the crisis continues. Draganfly’s specialized drone systems will enable our crews on the ground to access hotspots and provide humanitarian aid,” said Vaschuk.

Mamdani said he hopes all 200 drones will be operational in three to four months. He said the biggest obstacle facing the campaign is ensuring there are enough people who are able to pilot them.

dshort@postmedia.com



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