WFP AIRLIFTS ALL-TERRAIN TRUCKS TO SUDAN WITH U.S. ASSISTANCE
KHARTOUM - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today took delivery of eight all-terrain trucks flown to Sudan thanks to the generosity of the United States Agency for International Development to help move food to the needy in the troubled region of Darfur.
The eight trucks rolled off a massive Antonov-124 heavy transport aircraft that arrived on Wednesday evening at Khartoum International Airport from Eindhoven in the Netherlands. The aircraft will make two further rotations to transport a total of 24 trucks into Khartoum by Saturday.
The airlift is being funded by USAID on top of its already substantial contribution to Darfur's food requirements through WFP.
"We are extremely grateful to the United States government for this generous contribution to our efforts to bring life-saving assistance to the hundreds of thousand of people who need it in Darfur," said WFP Sudan Country Director Ramiro Lopes da Silva. "The cost of transporting vehicles by air is often prohibitive, but this donation will allow us to get these robust trucks to work as quickly as possible in Darfur."
The 24 trucks flown in over the next four days are the final batch of a fleet of 120 all-terrain vehicles brought in to reinforce WFP's work in Darfur. Most are bound for West Darfur state, where they will be crucial to delivering food while the destructive effects of the rainy season on the region's extremely limited road infrastructure is being felt.
All the 6X6 trucks are painted white and are emblazoned with WFP logos. They will all fly WFP flags in the field to ensure easy recognition.
"The transportation of these 24 heavy trucks is a gift from the American people to help with food distribution for the Sudanese people in Darfur," said Gerard M. Gallucci, the United States Chargé d'Affaires in Khartoum.
The first convoy of 21 trucks has already reached El-Fasher in North Darfur after battling through thick sand and appalling road conditions on their journey from Khartoum. A second convoy of 35 trucks is due to leave Khartoum for Darfur on Thursday, the same day that a third shipment of the final 40 is due to arrive in Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
Deteriorating security conditions in Darfur have forced the trucks now in El Fasher to remain there because of reported fighting between Tawhila and Kebkhebiya on the road to El Geneina, their eventual destination. The trucks are loaded with corn-soya blend, a nutrient rich blended food vital to supporting the diet of the most vulnerable such as children and pregnant and breast-feeding mothers.
Meanwhile WFP is maintaining its delivery of food by air because the rainy season has left many areas cut off from outside assistance by land. Air-drops into West Darfur continue and have so far delivered supplies to more than 100,000 people, many of them receiving a ration that will last two months.
As many of the air-drops were close to the border with Chad, several thousand people who fled across the international frontier have returned to Darfur to receive assistance. In the town of Masteri alone, 7,500 returnees were registered and supplied with food rations.
On Tuesday, WFP also started the airlift of a second batch of 2,000 metric tons of CSB from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa into the three Darfur state capitals.
In September, WFP will target 1.2 million people for food assistance in Darfur. That number will rise to two million in October, because many people not forced to flee their homes but still suffering the consequences of conflict in the region will be considered to be in need of food aid. The revised figure will require 35,000 tons of food to be delivered in Darfur every month.
To date, the United States has contributed a combined total of nearly US$100 million for the Darfur crisis some US$86.4 million to Sudan's Darfur region (including logistics support) and US$12.3 million to WFP's operation across the border in Chad. In addition, WFP has so far received contributions from the European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Finland, France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Italy, Denmark, Slovakia and Luxembourg.
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