Warehousing and distribution

UNICEF warehouses and distribution centres around the world enable us to coordinate agile responses to emergencies and regular programmes globally.

Box with the UNICEF logo in the organisation's Supply Division, in Copenhagen, March 2019.
UNICEF/UN0297762/Nabrdalik VII

Global supply hub

UNICEF’s global supply hub in Copenhagen is home to a warehouse that spans over 20,000 m2, making it the largest humanitarian warehouse in the world. It can store up to 36,000 pallets, or movable blocks, of supplies.

The facility was a donation from Denmark to UNICEF, and it is automated with robot cranes that move supplies in and out of its racking system, orchestrating the pallets’ positioning and deployments based on turnover and expiry dates.

Our teams in Copenhagen also provide guidance, support and training to UNICEF’s regional and country offices for warehouse and inventory management, including for government partners.

What do we store in the world’s largest humanitarian warehouse?

Inside the high bay in UNICEF’s global warehouse, a donation from the Danish government, in Copenhagen.
UNICEF/UN062150/Guhle

We store:

Products to manage safe water, sanitation and hygiene, school and medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, among a wide range of items that facilitate children’s healthcare, education and protection. Some emergency supplies are stored on behalf of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The Copenhagen warehouse has a Good Distribution Practice (GDP) certification for handling and distributing pharmaceuticals, and it has its own quality assurance function.

We also pack and store 50 types of standard kits for immediate dispatch. In addition, we currently pack 24 customer-specific kits upon demand. The warehouse gives us the flexibility to pack and ship Emergency Health Kits or other customized kits that contain diverse parts for specific situations. In emergency responses, a combination of kits and individual items are consolidated and transported together to a site affected by a disaster or conflict.

We do not store:

Vaccines and food. These supplies are delivered in large quantities directly from manufacturers to the destination country.

Regional supply hubs

A staff member drives a forklift in UNICEF humanitarian warehouse in Panamá City.
UNICEF/UN0341856

The four UNICEF hubs combined contain sufficient emergency supplies to meet the needs of 250,000 people for three months.

Regional supply hubs in Brindisi, Dubai and Panama complement the warehouse in Copenhagen to ensure that dispatches are efficient and timely, especially during emergencies. UNICEF’s warehouse in Dubai was a donation from the International Humanitarian City, a logistics hub that also hosts other UN agencies. The four UNICEF hubs combined contain sufficient emergency supplies to meet the needs of 250,000 people for three months.

Despite the large capacity, only 5 per cent of what UNICEF delivers around the globe comes through these hubs. Most deliveries are shipped in bulk directly from suppliers to the destination country, and others come from local warehouses managed by UNICEF regional and country offices, for ongoing programmatic work for children around the world. These are mainly transported by sea. Otherwise, all vaccines and most emergency shipments are transported by air. UNICEF works with the UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD), a network of logistics hubs around the world, to pre-position humanitarian relief supplies and coordinate emergency responses.

Our supply colleagues around the world also coordinate in-country logistics, planning and managing an efficient, effective flow and storage of supplies from ports of entry to the final destination: children in urban or rural and remote locations, no matter the situation.