WFP AIRLIFTS FOOD TO SUDAN'S DARFUR REGION FROM ETHIOPIA
ADDIS ABABA - The United Nations World Food Programme today started an airlift of enriched food from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to Sudan's North Darfur and South Darfur states to help feed the most vulnerable among some one million people uprooted from their homes by conflict.
Two WFP-chartered Ilyushin cargo planes will make 44 trips to Nyala in South Darfur and El Fasher in North Darfur to transport 2,000 metric tons of micronutrient-rich Famix flour - enough to feed some 300,000 people for one month. The food aid was ordered by WFP and produced at three factories near Addis Ababa. It is valued at some US$827,000.
"We have launched this airlift to deliver critically needed food aid to Darfur. Without this enriched food, the lives of thousands of children, pregnant and lactating women are at risk due to widespread severe malnutrition in the conflict-ridden region," said Abnezer Ngowi, WFP's Acting Country Director in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia itself requires more than 770,000 tonnes of food this year for seven million people affected by drought and poverty, but enriched food is being produced by companies for local and international markets.
WFP is accelerating its food deliveries to Darfur and hopes to feed some 700,000 people in June. Famix is an especially nutritious blend of food for children, pregnant women and lactating women.
WFP estimates that 1.2 million people will need food aid each month until October, when a total of two million people will be targeted until December. This will include families who are likely to become impoverished because of a failed harvest and rising food prices, even though they themselves are not displaced. WFP has provided assistance to victims of the crisis since August 2003.
There are 137 locations with internally displaced people in Darfur and 103 of them are currently accessible.
The arrival of the rains has also started to cause severe problems for transporters and trucks loaded with WFP food are struggling to cross wadis (seasonal rivers) during heavy rainfall. As much food as possible is being airlifted into Darfur and food air-drops are planned for communities that will be cut off by the rains, particularly in the west.
Despite the extreme urgency of providing for the basic needs of those suffering in Darfur, WFP remains seriously under-resourced, having received only 32 percent of the funding necessary for its work in Darfur until the end of the year. The current shortfall is more than US$130 million.
Donors who have contributed to WFP's US$195 million emergency operation for the war-affected in the Darfur region include the United States (US$46 million), the European Commission (US$4.7 million), the United Kingdom (US$3 million), Canada (US$2.9 million), Australia (US$1.4 million), Germany (US$1.2 million), New Zealand (US$600,000), Spain (US$600,000), Finland (US$600,000), the Netherlands (US$600,000) and Luxembourg (US$100,000).
Fighting involving rebels and militias in Darfur began in February 2003. An 8 April cease-fire has largely held, but marauding militias have continued attacks on civilians. Thousands of people have fled in panic as these militias descended on their villages, raped women and looted and burned their homes.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: in 2003 we gave food aid to a record 104 million people in 81 countries, including 56 million hungry children.
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