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UN Launches New Air Route for Darfur Food

UN Launches New Air Route via Libya to Step Up Darfur Food Deliveries

New York, May 9 2005 11:00AM

The first flight taking food aid from Libya directly into western Sudan’s troubled Darfur region took place over the weekend as the United Nations food agency launched a campaign to reach nearly 2 million people during the rainy season, which begins in June.

An Ilyushin-76 aircraft landed on Saturday in the South Darfur state capital of Nyala from al-Kufra in south-east Libya carrying 30 tons of cereals, according to the World Food Programme (<'http://www.wfp.org/index.htm">WFP), which hopes to deliver 5,000 tons monthly via the new air corridor.

The flight path follows last year's opening of an ancient caravan route overland for convoys of WFP food aid to travel from Libya to refugee camps in Chad, which are hosting some 200,000 Sudanese fleeing the two-year long conflict between the government, its allied militias and rebels.

“The extra capacity using the al-Kufra airlift will be a tremendous help during the approaching rainy season and concurrent period of greatest food shortages,” said WFP's Sudan representative Ramiro Lopes da Silva. “We are looking at a worst-case scenario of more than three million people needing food assistance in Darfur from August.”

ENDS

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