UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
WFP FORCED TO LAUNCH ADDITIONAL
FOOD AIRLIFTS TO BRAZZAVILLE TO STEM GROWING HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
28 January 1999, Abidjan
-- The UN World Food Programme today resumed its airlift to the beleaguered city of Brazzaville, Republic of Congo (ROC), to halt the rapidly deteriorating situation gripping over 50,000 people.
This morning the agency began a 1,000-ton food airlift, one of the largest to the Central Africa region in over a year. The operation utilizes five Antonov aircraft making daily food shuttles to Brazzaville, from the port city of Pointe Noire, where WFP had pre-positioned emergency food stocks last August in anticipation of continued conflict in the region.
Reports from WFP staff based in Brazzaville indicate that malnutrition and disease have reached critical levels in most of the 15 sites in the north of the city, where over 50,000 displaced people have gathered. They fled their homes in the south of the country when fighting broke out in the Pool and southern Brazzaville regions at the end of last year.
Continued insecurity in the city has discouraged people from leaving the sites and returning home, prolonging the crisis and exacerbating an already poor health situation.
These people have been hanging on, trying to survive in a steadily worsening situation for nearly two months now, said Rigobert Oura, WFPs Emergency Officer for Brazzaville. Most are living in overcrowded public sites with no electricity, running water or medical facilities. They are completely dependent on the limited food aid supplies we can get to them.
Sporadic fighting in Brazzaville continues to hamper aid agency efforts to bring in additional staff and assistance to deal with the growing problem. UN agencies have recently been forced to relocate to Kinshasa the limited international staff who had been working in Brazzaville because of the increased security risks. National staff continue to carryout emergency work on behalf of the agencies in the absence of any sustained international presence.
Our Congolese staff are under tremendous strain trying to run massive relief programmes under incredibly difficult circumstances, said Oura. Without them, virtually no assistance would reach these people desperately in need.
The airlift is expected to last for one week. As in past operations, some of the food is being transported by barge from Brazzaville to Kinshasa to feed war-affected families in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Over the past five months, WFP has airlifted nearly 2,200 tons of food aid to keep emergency programmes operating in the ROC and DRC.
WFP only utilizes airlifts, which are more expensive than traditional transport methods, when no other options are available. The agency warns that if sustained assistance is needed in the weeks ahead and rail and road routes have not re-opened, additional funding will be required to cover the cost of continuing to airlift food supplies.
The World Food Programme is the United Nations front-line agency in the fight against global hunger. Last year its relief workers fed 53 million people. Based in Rome, Italy the agency operates in 76 countries around the world.
For more information, contact:
Rigobert Oura Emergency Officer Brazzaville WFP Kinshasa Tel. (243-88) 40705
Wagdi Othman Information Officer WFP Abidjan Tel. (225) 211709
Michele Quintaglie Information Officer WFP Kenya Tel. (254-2) 622336
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999 13:09:44 -0300 (GMT+3) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: WFP to launch additional airlifts 1999.1.29
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar, email@example.com