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.

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