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UNHCR begins airlift to Kenya and Ethiopia to aid uprooted Somalis

Press releases

UNHCR begins airlift to Kenya and Ethiopia to aid uprooted Somalis

17 July 2011

Nairobi, 17 July 2011 (UNHCR)

NAIROBI - The first in a series of UNHCR emergency airlift flights to bring aid to uprooted Somalis in remote refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia began Sunday with the arrival in Nairobi of a giant cargo jet carrying 100 tonnes of tents.

The UNHCR-chartered Boeing 747 arrived in Nairobi mid-morning and its cargo was immediately off-loaded for transport by road convoy early in the week to the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp complex near the Kenya-Somalia border.

Sunday's flight, bringing 2,300 family tents from a UNHCR stockpile in Kuwait, was the first of five scheduled for Nairobi on alternate days this week.

The next is set for Tuesday. The remaining flights, however, will originate in Islamabad, Pakistan, bringing some 6,600 tents from UNHCR's regional stockpiles there.

Another airlift of UNHCR aid supplies to Ethiopia is also set to begin as early as Monday. The airlift, which will deliver up to of 20,000 tents, will originate from UNHCR's regional stockpile in Dubai and will deliver its cargo to Addis Ababa for onward delivery.

The airlifts will support UNHCR's efforts to help more than 430,000 Somali refugees in Kenya and Ethiopia, including 164,000 who have arrived in the two countries since the beginning of the year. Some 3,000 continue to arrive daily, fleeing continuing insecurity, drought and hunger in Somalia.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, who was in Dadaab a week ago, describes the crisis as the "worst humanitarian disaster in the world."

Regional UNHCR contacts:

  • In Nairobi: Ron Redmond on mobile +254 734 564 019
  • Needa Jehu-Hoyah on mobile +254 734 564 018
  • Emmanuel Nyabera on mobile +254 733 99 59 75
  • Andy Needham on mobile +254 733 12 09 31
  • In Ethiopia: Kisut Gebre Egziabher, on mobile +25 19 11 20 89 01
  • In Geneva: Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 91 20