News24

UN plans air drops to aid South Sudan

2012-08-02 22:20

Rome - The UN World Food Programme on Thursday said it was planning air drops into Upper Nile State in South Sudan to deliver up to 5 000 tons of food this month to tens of thousands of refugees.

"WFP is pulling out all the stops to keep providing desperately needed food to refugees in Upper Nile State", who are fleeing fighting in Sudan's Blue Nile State, WFP's South Sudan country director Chris Nikoi said in a statement.

"People in camps have told me how they arrived weak and hungry after weeks of trekking and foraging in the forest before crossing the border," he said.

WFP said it has been supporting around 105 000 refugees in Maban County but the recent arrival of 35 000 more people had suddenly increased food needs just as the rainy season is setting in, making logistics even more difficult.

Continued assistance "will require some extraordinary measures given the size of the refugee influx into an area with limited infrastructure", Nikoi said.

WFP's press office said the air drops could start "within the next two weeks", and the flights would be leaving from neighbouring Ethiopia.

"Health workers are reporting alarming levels of malnutrition among children in the newly established Yusuf Batil camp, where many new refugees have arrived in a weakened condition and battling illness," WFP said in a statement.

"Elsewhere in South Sudan, WFP will also airdrop about 3 000 metric tons of food to the Yida refugee camps in Unity State, where an influx of refugees doubled the population in a matter of weeks," the statement said.

WFP said there were around 60 000 refugees in Yida and that the camp is completely inaccessible by road until the end of the rainy season.

The Rome-based agency said it was appealing to donors for $6.5m to fund the air drops into Maban and Yida.