UNHCR launches landmark aid airlift to Mogadishu

News Stories, 8 August 2011

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Loading an aircraft with aid in Dubai, where UNHCR has a stockpile of emergency assistance. A chartered aircraft with aid arrived in Mogadishu today after leaving Dubai.

GENEVA, August 8 (UNHCR) A UNHCR-chartered aircraft carrying emergency aid for thousands of displaced people landed on Monday afternoon in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. It was the first UNHCR aid airlift to the beleaguered city in five years.

The Ilyushin IL-62 cargo plane, carrying more than 31 tonnes of shelter material and some 2,500 emergency assistance packages, flew in from Dubai, where UNHCR has an aid stockpile. The special packs include plastic sheeting for shelter, sleeping mats and blankets, jerry cans and kitchen utensils. The second flight is scheduled to arrive on Thursday 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 dramatic rise in the number of civilians uprooted because of famine and conflict in recent weeks, the agency decided to airlift supplies and save time.

An estimated 100,000 Somalis, driven by drought and famine, have fled to Mogadishu over the past two months in search of food, water, shelter and other assistance. There were already more than 370,000 internally displaced people in Mogadishu before the current wave of displacement.

Somalia: First airliftPlay video

Somalia: First airlift

UNHCR's first aid flight to Somalia in five years lands in Mogadishu with 31 metric tons of shelter materials and other relief items for displaced Somalis.

"This airlift of emergency assistance items will allow us to continue delivering aid to those displaced by drought and famine," said UNHCR Representative to Somalia Bruno Geddo. "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 assistance for the displaced in the Horn of Africa until the end of the year. It has either received or has firm projections for US$65 million. This amount covers less than 45 per cent of identified needs for Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

The UN refugee agency is calling on donor countries, the private sector and individuals to urgently come forward and contribute towards closing the existing funding gap.

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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.

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

Emergency in Timor-Leste pt.5: The Emergency Operation Reaches Out

In mid-June UNHCR extended its emergency relief operation in Timor-Leste to include tens of thousands of people who fled violence in the capital Dili for districts in the countryside. An estimated 79,000 displaced people are in outlying districts with some 72,000 displaced in Dili.

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.

Despite sporadic violence, UNHCR continues to help the displaced who say they are still too scared to return to their homes and will wait in temporary shelters until the crisis ends.

Emergency in Timor-Leste pt.5: The Emergency Operation Reaches Out

Emergency in Timor-Leste pt.1: Recent Violence

June 2006

Recent violence in Timor-Leste has displaced about 100,000 people, with 65,000 sheltering in 40 squalid encampments in the capital, Dili, and a further 35,000 taking refuge in the countryside. A UNHCR assessment team visited the makeshift camps in Dili end May and reported the most critical humanitarian needs, aside from security, were food, clean water and shelter.

In a phased response to the crisis and as part of a joint UN effort, UNHCR deployed an emergency team to reinforce staff on the ground and is now airlifting in urgently needed supplies for some 30,000 displaced. The first flight, which arrived in Dili on June 5, brought 14 tonnes of lightweight family tents, plastic sheets and jerry cans from UNHCR stockpiles in Jordan.

UNHCR and its partners will use these items to establish new, planned camps for the displaced, where they can live in better conditions and assistance will be easier to deliver, until the security situation improves and they can return to their homes.

Emergency in Timor-Leste pt.1: Recent Violence

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Jordan: UNIQLO Distribution

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