Chad + 1 more

WFP welcomes French airlift to Eastern Chad

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ROME - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed France's offer to airlift life-saving humanitarian assistance to a growing number of Sudanese refugees and displaced Chadians living in an increasingly precarious situation. The airlift operation will be launched tomorrow from the capital N'djamena to eastern Chad.

"With the onset of the rainy season, thousands of refugees and internally displaced people will face even greater hardship. WFP is extremely grateful to the Government of France for their humanitarian airbridge to ferry relief supplies on behalf of WFP and other agencies," said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.

"This airlift will help avoid any critical gaps in our operation to feed thousands of people. France is a crucial partner for WFP in Chad, and across the world," said Sheeran.

WFP had needed to pre-position a six-month supply of food to feed 240,000 Sudanese refugees in 12 camps and 150,000 internally displaced people in the East through the rainy season from June to November. So far, WFP has managed to build four months of food stocks at the camps for refugees and Chadian displaced, in the eastern areas that will be hardest hit by the rains.

WFP thanked the French government and particularly Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner for their support to end the suffering of Sudanese refugees and displaced Chadians. France is a strong supporter of WFP, contributing a total of some 20 million Euros to its operations across the world in 2006.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: on average, each year, we give food to 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 58 million hungry children, in 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP - We Feed People.

WFP now provides RSS feeds to help journalists keep up with the latest press releases, videos and photos as they are published on WFP.org. For more details see: http://www.wfp.org/english/?n=999.

WFP now has a dedicated ISDN line in Italy for quality two-way interviews with WFP officials.

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Peter Smerdon, WFP/Nairobi, Tel +254-20-7622179, Cell +254-733-528-911

Stephanie Savariaud, WFP/Nairobi, Tel. +254 20 7622 336, Cell. +254 733 528 912

Cécile Sportis, WFP/Paris, Tel. +33-1-70385330, Cell. +33-6161-68266

Louis Vigneault, WFP/Paris, Cell. + 33 682261942

Brenda Barton, Deputy Director Communications, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39-06-65132602, Cell. +39-3472582217 (ISDN line available)

Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Cell. +44-7968-008474

Christiane Berthiaume, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564, Cell. +41-792857304

Jennifer Parmelee, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-6530010 ext. 1149, Cell. +1-202-4223383

Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-212-9635196, Cell. +1-646-8241112, luescher@un.org