Banda Aceh - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today paid tribute to the UK government's generous donation to WFP's relief effort in the tsunami crisis, as Suma Chakrabarti, the Permanent Secretary to Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) arrived in the Indonesian town of Banda Aceh to see for himself the affected area.
The Permanent Secretary's two day visit to WFP's operations in Aceh and Northern Sumatra follows the deployment of five DFID-donated helicopters which are now fully operational, reaching thousands of survivors living in isolated areas along Indonesia's devastated west coast.
The three Super Pumas, two Mi-8 helicopters and technical personnel are in-kind donations that complement DFID's overall contribution of 3.5 million pounds sterling (US$TK) to WFP's emergency operation in the tsunami-hit countries of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Myanmar and Thailand.
"With roads and infrastructure washed away, these helicopters have been vital in enabling us to reach everyone needing food assistance. We now feel sure that no one is going hungry," said Anthony Banbury, WFP's Regional Director for Asia.
Painted with UN-WFP logos, the Super Pumas can each carry between 2 and 3 metric tonnes of cargo and are being flown by South African crews. The Mi-8s, with a capacity for two to four tons of cargo, were brought in from Moldova and are operated by Moldovan pilots.
DFID has also donated the tactical fuel handling equipment, including a mobile storage tank, hoses, pumps and filters, all of which were shipped from Britain's East Midlands Airport on an Antonov-124 on 22 January. The portable tanks, also known as fuel bladders, are now on their way to the severely damaged coastal city of Meulaboh, where they will provide fuelling services for air transport along the western coastline.
"DFID has always been a real partner with WFP in its operations around the world. This is another example of that partnership," added Banbury.
To date, WFP has received the full funding for the US$185-million food component of the emergency operation in the tsunami disaster, while lacking some funding for its logistical operations. WFP thanks its many donors, from individuals to major donor governments - such as DFID.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year, WFP provides an average of 100 million people, including 56 million hungry children, with food aid in more than 80 countries.
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