UNHCR's emergency airlift ongoing, supplies arriving
JAKARTA, Jan. 5 (UNHCR) - As flights from UNHCR's emergency airlift, loaded with shelter and relief supplies for the tsunami-struck Indonesian province of Aceh start arriving in Jakarta, a UN assessment mission is set to explore the remote western Aceh coast where the refugee agency plans to target its assistance.
UNHCR is still finalising its plans for a multi-million-dollar, six-month emergency humanitarian relief operation in both Indonesia and Sri Lanka ahead of a joint UN appeal later in the week. Also included will be funding needed for relief items for 5,000 households in Somalia affected by the tsunami.
UNHCR's relief flights are starting to land in Jakarta as further flights in Amsterdam and Frankfurt are loading up supplies for Indonesia. An Antonov 124 carrying 100 tonnes of relief supplies from UNHCR's central warehouse in Copenhagen landed in Jakarta today and a flight from Dubai loaded with 2,000 family-sized tents was also due in late Tuesday. Shortly after midnight Wednesday, another emergency relief flight is scheduled to depart from Amsterdam carrying 102 tonnes of blankets and plastic sheeting from UNHCR's central warehouse.
On Wednesday, an inter-agency mission organised by UNHCR and the World Food Programme (WFP) is to begin a two-day helicopter survey of areas along the devastated west coast of Sumatra. The refugee agency faces huge logistical challenges in Aceh, where it is starting operations from scratch. UNHCR will focus on providing shelter, particularly in the remote and inaccessible regions in the west, and is considering using both helicopters and barges to get supplies to those who need it. The first priority is to get emergency shelter materials and other non-food basics to those living in the open after which it's planned to provide shelter kits so people can begin rebuilding and repairing their homes.
UNHCR now has advance logistics and supply teams on the ground in Aceh province and in Medan, on the eastern side of the island, to smooth the delivery of its relief supplies. Most of UNHCR's supplies will be flown to Medan, and then trucked across the island to affected areas in the west.
Plans are also underway to airlift this week further supplies of plastic sheeting and five huge temporary warehouses to Sri Lanka to boost warehousing capacity and provide extra shelter materials. The day after the tsunami, UNHCR opened its warehouses in Sri Lanka and began distributing everything in its stockpiles - plastic sheeting, cooking sets and clothing for 100,000 people. But those supplies, which formed a vital stopgap in Sri Lanka until international aid arrived, are now on the brink of running out and need rapid replenishment. With seven offices and 113 staff in Sri Lanka, UNHCR is the largest operational UN agency on the island and already has a good distribution network in place, particularly in the conflict-affected areas. Before the tsunami, UNHCR cared for 390,000 internally displaced people and returned refugees in Sri Lanka. Now we estimate there are some 800,000 who are displaced.
UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner, Mr. Kamel Morjane, was scheduled to depart Tuesday night for Jakarta, where he will inspect the agency's operations in Indonesia. Morjane is the senior official in charge of global operations.