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World Vision plans emergency airlift to Darfur

World Vision plans emergency airlift to Darfur

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World Vision plans to airlift emergency supplies directly into war-ravaged Darfur after the Sudanese government pledged to ease access for humanitarian agencies.

Following visits by the UN Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Sudan said it would streamline issuing of visas for all aid workers and suspend restrictions on the importation of humanitarian supplies, including vehicles, aircraft, and communication equipment.

World Vision Africa relief director Philippe Guiton, speaking from Khartoum, said the move was a positive step.

"We are now in a position to mount an airlift within a week or so, and quickly assemble ex-pat and local staff to implement our programmes in Darfur," he said.

World Vision plans an airlift of relief supplies and vehicles from its warehouses in Brindisi, Italy.

Agency staff are also considering a second airlift from Nairobi, largely to provide mosquito netting for refugees. With the onset of the rainy season, it's feared hundreds of thousands of people, currently displaced in camps, are especially vulnerable to malaria.

Meanwhile World Vision is negotiating a contract with the World Food Programme to distribute 17,000 tonnes of food to 200,000 beneficiaries in Darfur. World Vision is the World Food Programme's largest partner for the distribution of food aid.

About one million people are estimated to be displaced in Darfur, after a militia terror campaign razed villages, poisoned water sources and left thousands dead or starving.

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