Sudan UN agencies relocate refugees from Chad border airlift food aid to

“The airlift coincides with an urgent refugee relocation operation aimed at moving tens of thousands of refugees away from the insecure Chad-Sudan border to safer camps further inland before the start of the rainy season in May,” Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said at a press briefing in Geneva. Nearly 4,000 refugees have been transported so far to two new camps. “Obviously, we’ve still got a long way to go in this race against time and the elements,” he added. Meanwhile, as conditions deteriorate in the Darfur region in western Sudan, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is airlifting food aid into the area to help alleviate the suffering of tens of thousands of people displaced by the conflict there. The airlift of some 500 tons of sorghum to El Fasher, in North Darfur, is an interim measure to ensure that food reaches people who have been cut off since November. Insecurity continues to prevent WFP from transporting food by road from its main warehouses to key supply points in El Fasher and Nyala. “We are not planning a massive airlift to the region, since we hope that road transportation will be re-established very soon,” said Bradley Guerrant, WFP’s Deputy Country Director for Sudan. “This is intended to meet the urgent needs of people we have been unable to reach for several months.” The airlift of sorghum comes in response to additional urgent needs in the region, where in recent weeks WFP has managed to distribute nearly 2,000 tons of food assistance to 105,000 displaced people – 96,000 in Kutum town and another 9,000 in four other locations. An additional 28,000 displaced people are still expecting assistance in Kutum, where WFP’s stocks have run out. An estimated one million people have been displaced in Darfur as a result of the conflict between rebel movements, militias and the Government of Sudan. To escape the fighting, which began a year ago, another 110,000 people have crossed the border into Chad where they will receive WFP food. On the Sudanese side of the border, humanitarian agencies are hopeful that current access to Kutum will be extended to cover other areas in Greater Darfur so that assistance can reach those who desperately need it. read more