Major push underway to get UNHCR relief supplies to Aceh
GENEVA/JAKARTA, Jan. 12 (UNHCR) - In a major push to get all UNHCR's 400 tonnes of relief supplies that were airlifted into Indonesia to the tsunami-stricken province of Aceh, the refugee agency is using additional commercial charter flights and truck convoys from Jakarta to move supplies to northern Sumatra.
Meanwhile in Geneva, it is not yet clear how much funding the UN refugee agency will receive for its US$75 million tsunami emergency proposals for Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Somalia from the US$738 million pledged late Tuesday at the Indian Ocean Flash Appeal, a meeting of U.N. officials and donor governments.
In Jakarta on Wednesday, a UNHCR commercial charter was scheduled to fly late evening to Banda Aceh carrying 16 tonnes of relief supplies including blankets, jerry cans and cooking sets. This is the second commercial flight the refugee agency has chartered because of a lack of access to military flights.
Two more flights are scheduled for Friday, one of which may be a military flight - the first UNHCR would have had access to. Also in Jakarta, an eight truck commercial convoy loaded with some 100 tonnes of relief supplies was set to leave late Wednesday on the journey to Banda Aceh. Two convoys left earlier in the week.
"By Friday we should have moved between 60-70 per cent of the goods airlifted in from our central and regional stockpiles, so we still need one big, final convoy next week and then all the relief supplies will be in Aceh," said UNHCR's deputy representative in Jakarta Stephane Jaquemet.
UNHCR, which asked for US$60 million in the Flash Appeal to provide shelter for 175,000 disaster-displaced people on the remote west Aceh coast, has already set up a base with other UN agencies at Meulaboh in the region. It's hoped that next week the three Super Puma helicopters generously provided by the Swiss government to UNHCR and other UN humanitarian agencies for logistical support, will be able to start flying relief supplies regularly into the west coast area. On Thursday a US helicopter flight is scheduled to carry in 4.2 tonnes of UNHCR shelter material into Meulaboh.
Overall, Indonesian authorities now estimate some 609,000 people are displaced in Aceh as a result of the Dec. 26 tsunami.
Meanwhile in Sri Lanka, where UNHCR has asked for US$15.3 million for its proposed shelter and logistical support response to the tsunami-displaced, an airlift of 20,000 kitchen sets, in two flights from New Delhi was set to finish Wednesday. An airlift of plastic sheeting is also expected within a few days. There are an estimated 903,000 people displaced by the tsunami in Sri Lanka.
UNHCR, with its seven offices and more than 100 staff across the country, particularly in the war-affected area, opened the doors of its relief supply warehouse immediately after the tsunami struck the Indian Ocean island to give urgently needed humanitarian aid to the disaster victims.
Building on more than 50 years of aiding refugees from persecution and armed conflict, UNHCR is taken the unprecedented step of helping victims of a natural disaster, in Somalia as well as Indonesia and Sri Lanka.