UNHCR emergency airlift to Indonesia set to start Sunday
31 December 2004
GENEVA - The UN refugee agency is scheduled to start an emergency airlift on Sunday to carry tons of shelter materials and other urgently needed supplies from its warehouses in Dubai and Copenhagen for an initial 100,000 people in Indonesia's ravaged province of Aceh.
"We will be immediately providing shelter material for about one-fifth of the estimated affected population, but this is just the start of our operation," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers. "Their homes and entire towns and villages have been obliterated by the earthquake and tidal waves, so people are in desperate need of emergency shelter. UNHCR has extensive experience in refugee emergency response, so we are going to do everything we can as part of the overall UN effort."
The airlift is expected to start from both Copenhagen and Dubai on Sunday, flying into Jakarta over 400 tons of relief items. From Jakarta, the materials are expected to be loaded onto C-130 aircraft and ships and then ferried into Aceh. UNHCR is planning to use ships to get shelter supplies and other aid to otherwise inaccessible areas of Aceh, but details are yet to be confirmed. An emergency team of 14 people, including logistics, telecommunications and field experts will be deploying to Aceh over the next few days to ensure the smooth delivery of relief material and coordinate UNHCR's activities there.
Four flights are scheduled from Copehagen using an Antonov 124 and an Ilyushin 76. They will airlift 100,000 blankets, 20,000 plastic sheets, 20,000 kitchen sets and 20,000 jerry cans. From UNHCR's stockpiles in Dubai, there will be two flights by an Antonov 124 carrying 2,000 lightweight tents which can accommodate up to 10 people each.
UNHCR is redeploying equipment from other parts of Indonesia, including West Timor, to meet the extraordinary needs in Aceh province.
In Sri Lanka, meanwhile, UNHCR is using its seven offices and some 100 staff across the country to continue deliveries of emergency relief supplies of plastic sheeting, plastic mats, cooking sets and clothing from its warehouses to the needy population in the war-affected areas and in the south. Supplies are being delivered to Colombo, Hambantota, Mallativu, Trincomalee and Jaffna. With one of the few in-country stockpiles of relief supplies in Sri Lanka, UNHCR was able to rapidly get humanitarian aid to some 20,000 people, filling an important stopgap until international aid began arriving. UNHCR has worked in Sri Lanka for nearly two decades.