'Not on our watch' donates to critical air operation in Darfur

Published on 13 March 2008

The vital Humanitarian Air Service run by WFP in Darfur has received its first donation of 2008: US$500,000 from Not On Our Watch, the humanitarian and advocacy organisation founded by the Hollywood actors George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, producer Jerry Weintraub and civil rights lawyer David Pressman.

The vital Humanitarian Air Service run by the World Food Programme (WFP) in Darfur has received its first donation of 2008: US$500,000 from Not On Our Watch, the humanitarian

We are proud to help ensure the survival of this lifesaving programme and strongly encourage others to do the same
George Clooney, a co-founder of Not On Our Watch

and advocacy organisation founded by the Hollywood actors George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, producer Jerry Weintraub and civil rights lawyer David Pressman.

This is the WFP’s second donation from Not On Our Watch; in 2007, the organisation granted $1 million dollars toward UN WFP-HAS.

"Epic humanitarian challenge"

WFP-HAS announced earlier this week that by the end of March it would be forced to ground the helicopters and aeroplanes that carry crucial supplies and relief workers to remote parts of Darfur because no confirmed donations had arrived to its US$77 million budget this year.

"Having seen first hand the epic humanitarian challenge in Darfur, George Clooney and his colleagues know the life saving power of the Humanitarian Air Service,” said Josette Sheeran, WFP's Executive Director.

“This contribution will make a difference to the millions of vulnerable women and children trapped there, and we hope it will inspire other donations," she said.

Critical time

“World Food Programme planes and helicopters deliver humanitarian workers and urgent supplies to nearly every aid organisation working in Darfur,” said George Clooney, a co-founder of Not On Our Watch.

“This is a critical time for the programme. Without immediate additional funding, humanitarian aid in the region will be crippled. We are proud to help ensure the survival of this lifesaving programme and strongly encourage others to do the same. Protection of these victims should not fall solely in the hands of charitable organisations. Governments have a responsibility to help those who cannot defend themselves.”

An average of 8,000 relief workers in Darfur, who provide essential food assistance, water and healthcare services, use WFP-HAS each month.

This number includes 3,000 passengers on the six helicopters travelling to the most remote parts of Darfur, unreachable due to insecurity and lack of road access.

Potential contributions

More than half of WFP-HAS passengers work for non-governmental organizations and charities, while others work for UN humanitarian agencies such as WFP, UNICEF the World Health Organization and others. Some humanitarian cargo is also carried on WFP-HAS, although the majority of supplies arrive by truck.

"Since we issued our statement earlier this week we have heard from other traditional donors and we are hopeful that more contributions will arrive before the end of March," said Kenro Oshidari, the WFP Representative in Sudan.

The Not On Our Watch donation was made through Friends of WFP in Washington.

"The entire humanitarian community – and the more than three million conflict-affected people in Darfur that they serve – depend on the services of WFP-HAS," said Oshidari.

WFP-HAS's monthly budget to run its 24 aircraft throughout North and South Sudan (including Darfur) is US$6.2 million.