UNHCR launches landmark aid airlift to Mogadishu
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.
"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.