U.N. makes first food airdrop in Angola for decade

LUANDA, Feb 7 (Reuters) - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) airdropped food to a remote village in Angola on Friday, the first such delivery in the war-scarred country for a decade.

The agency was forced to fly in food to the hungry people of Luvemba in the central province of Huambo, because rains had made roads to the area impassable.

"Excellent. Bull's eye. We had a cross wind so we had to offset where we released the food to get it on the mark," Kevin Pierce, chief flight engineer for the chartered plane which delivered the food, told Reuters after the flight.

Eighteen tonnes of food, mainly maize, was dropped on pallets from just 200 metres (655 feet) up.

Luvemba last received one month's supply of food from the WFP by truck in early November, before the main rains arrived.

WFP officials said the drop was the first of its kind for 10 years. Other areas were being assessed for possible airdrops, but such deliveries were only a last resort due to the expense involved, they said.

Despite their country's oil riches, many Angolans are going hungry after 27 years of war which killed around one million people and displaced millions more. The war ended last year after veteran rebel leader Jonas Savimbi died in an ambush.

WFP says it hopes to assist 2.4 million Angolans this year, at an estimated cost of $241 million.

Last week WFP chief James Morris visited Angola, telling its government that he expected Angola to meet part of the cost through its income from rich oil and diamond resources.

Over 15 million people face hunger across southern Africa, which has been hit by a severe drought.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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