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November 5, 09

NEWS / UN agency airdrops food aid to over 155,000 hungry people in southern Sudan

4 November 2009 – The United Nations has begun to parachute food aid into isolated areas of conflict-ridden southern Sudan with the aim of reaching more than 155,000 people cut off from road access by heavy rainfall, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced today.
The airdrops, which began last week, are slated to continue for another two-and-a-half months, providing some 4,000 tons of food to people hit by conflict, high food prices and poor harvests in three of the 10 states in southern Sudan – Jonglei, Upper Nile and Warrap.

“We can’t wait for food prices to drop or the roads to be passable again,” said WFP Sudan country director Amer Daoudi. “Airdrops are the only way for us to reach them.”

The few roads that exist in this vast area are impassable during the current April to December rainy season, and a recent spike in tribal fighting has also blocked road and river access to some areas.

WFP has chartered an Ilyushin-76 aircraft – capable of carrying 36 tons of food on each flight – to make the airdrops on 22 different locations across the three states where trained teams will be ready to collect the food from the drop zone and organize distributions.

Underscoring the higher expensive of airdrops over road and river transportation, Mr. Daoudi said that the “need is so immense that we need to use all our resources to feed so many people facing food shortages.”

WFP has appealed for $44 million to buy and deliver 22,000 tons of food to feed 300,000 people facing severe food shortages in southern Sudan, and plans to reach half of them through airdrops and the rest by road and barge. To date the agency has received $14.5 million of that amount from various UN funds.




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