Angola + 1 more

Zambia: WFP planning relief airlift

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JOHANNESBURG, 18 January (IRIN) - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday it had appealed to donors for US $100,000 to charter aircraft to carry vital supplies to thousands of Angolan refugees who fled in recent weeks to the western banks of the Zambezi River valley.
"As the rainy season is now underway, many of these refugees are almost inaccessible because roads in the area are becoming flooded," WFP spokeswoman, Christiane Berthiaume, told IRIN. "In some areas now it takes a lorry 24 hours or longer to cover just 75 km, and as more people keep coming in from Angola we are growing increasingly concerned."

She said the agency hoped to airlift 300 mt of food to the refugees. Small aircraft would have to be used because the nearest airfield in the area outside Mongu in Zambia's Western Province was not long enough for big cargo planes. WFP had sent a logistics officer to Zambia to look into the issue, she said.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Zambia, an estimated 21,000 Angolans had fled to the area since October last year when the Angolan government started a military offensive against UNITA rebels. Berthiaume said it was hoped the aircraft bringing the relief in could be used to help transfer refugees to established camps well away from the border zone.

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