UNHCR emergency airlift lands in Somalia capital to assist famine victims

Press Releases, 8 August 2011

Monday 8 August 2011

GENEVA The first of three UNHCR emergency airlift landed 20 minutes ago in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, at 13:15 local time. It is the first airlift undertaken by UNHCR Somalia to Mogadishu in five years.

The UNHCR-chartered Ilyushin IL-62 cargo is carrying more than 31 metric tons of shelter material and other aid items from UNHCR's emergency stockpile in Dubai. The stock comprises some 2,500 Emergency Assistance Packages (EAPs) which include plastic sheeting for shelter, sleeping mats and blankets, jerricans for water, as well as kitchen utensils to collect and cook food. The second flight is scheduled to arrive on Thursday 11th with the third to follow next week.

UNHCR has been shipping its relief items to Mogadishu by sea and by land but due to the unprecedented rise in the number of civilians uprooted because of famine, the agency decided to airlift supplies in order to save time. An estimated 100,000 Somalis, driven by drought and famine, have fled to Mogadishu over the past two months alone in search of food, water, shelter and other assistance. There were already over 370,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Mogadishu before this current wave of displacement.

"This airlift of emergency assistance items will allow us to continue delivering aid to those displaced by drought and famine," said UNHCR Somalia Representative Bruno Geddo. "However, we need the funding support to continue to enable us to replenish our emergency stocks inside Somalia as they are being rapidly depleted as we deliver much-needed aid across southern Somalia," he added.

UNHCR has appealed for US$145 million to provide protection and emergency needs for the refugee crisis in the Horn of Africa until the end of the year. To date, it has either received or has firm projections for USD$ 65 million. This amount covers less than 45 per cent of identified needs for Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

UNHCR is calling on donor countries, private sector and individuals to urgently come forward and contribute towards closing the existing funding gap. Unless new funds are swiftly committed, this shortfall will impact vital humanitarian assistance for tens of thousands of Somali refugees and internally displaced people.

Learn more about the crisis in Somalia and how to contribute by visiting the UNHCR Horn of Africa emergency site. For the latest updates follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Geneva: Andrej Mahecic on mobile: +41 79 200 76 17

  • In Nairobi UNHCR regional office: Ron Redmond on mobile +254 734 564 019

  • In Kenya, UNHCR Somalia Office: Andy Needham on mobile +254 733 120 931 or +252 699 31 66 65

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Emergency in Timor-Leste pt.3: UNHCR's Air and Sea Relief Delivery Operation

Rushing emergency relief supplies to tens of thousands of displaced people in the strife-hit Timor-Leste has been a top priority for the UN refugee agency.

On Monday, the first phase of the air and sea operation ferrying in 200 metric tonnes of tents, blankets, plastic sheeting and kitchen sets, was completed.

Last week four Antonov-12 flights flew in 56 tonnes of supplies, and on Monday 12 June, a freighter crossed the Timor Sea from Darwin, loaded with 150 tonnes of supplies, flown in earlier from UNHCR's regional Middle East stockpiles in Jordan to the northern Australian city. There are now shelter supplies on the ground for some 17,000 people.

Working closely with partners on the ground, UNHCR's emergency team is already improving living conditions at the crowded, unsanitary makeshift camps around the capital Dili, and starting to establish planned camps.

Security is still a major concern for the displaced, traumatised by the house burning, looting and violence. UNHCR urgently needs US$4.8 million for its Timor-Leste emergency operation.

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The UN refugee agency has delivered shelter materials and emergency supplies to easterners and westerners in Hera village, 25 kilometres to the east of Dili. Most of the inhabitants of Hera are westerners and have fled their homes and taken to the hills. A smaller group of easterners have moved to the safety of a fenced naval compound, where they have been joined by easterners who fled Dili. UNHCR has also delivered shelter materials to Metinaro, 40 minutes outside of Dili, as well as to Auturo Island.

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Somalia Airlift: UNHCR flies aid to Mogadishu for first time in 5 years.

For the first time in five years, UNHCR has been able to airlift vital humanitarian aid to the conflict-ravaged Somalia capital of Mogadishu. Tens of thousands of Somalis, fleeing drought and famine, have descended on the city in recent weeks searching for food, water, medicine and other assistance.

Three UNHCR-chartered aircraft have brought around 100 tonnes of aid to Mogadishu since August 8. The aircraft carried relief items from the agency's emergency stockpile in Dubai. The latest shipment includes high energy protein biscuits, plastic sheeting for shelter, sleeping mats, blankets, jerry cans for water and kitchen utensils.

The UN refugee agency usually delivers relief items to Mogadishu by sea and land for security reasons, but - due to the unprecedented rise in the number of uprooted civilians - UNHCR decided to airlift supplies in order to save time. There are now around half-a-million internally displaced people in Mogadishu.

Somalia Airlift: UNHCR flies aid to Mogadishu for first time in 5 years.

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