"It is very important that these items arrive in Darfur as soon as possible. Rain has already started falling in some parts of Darfur, and this means there is no time to waste. It only takes a couple of days of heavy rain before the camps become very muddy and uncomfortable. Large quantities of lying water also present an increased risk of spread of disease, so we must be prepared", says Geir Hurlen Rødven, Norwegian Church Aid's Logistics officer.
To this end, Norwegian Church Aid has exclusively chartered a Russian IL-76 cargo aircraft to make five 45-tonne deliveries of emergency supplies and other equipment to Darfur. This will be the largest airlift within such a short period of time that Norwegian Church Aid has sent to Darfur since the crisis escalated in February 2004.
The first flight will take off from Dubai on Tuesday, June 21 carrying 10,000 large plastic sheets that can be used to provide waterproof shelter for the people of Darfur. The flight is expected to land in Nyala, capital of Southern Darfur, the following morning.
A further four flights will then be sent to Darfur over the next four weeks, containing a further 10,000 plastic sheets, 36,800 warm blankets, 49,000 family-sized mosquito nets, medical supplies, two off-road vehicles, and 25 tonnes of 'BP-5' emergency ration biscuits. Upon arrival in Nyala, the relief items will then be transported by truck to specially-set up distribution centres, and then on to where they are needed most.
The Norwegian Church Aid logistics team is now highly experienced within the field of shipping to Darfur, which in itself is no easy place to reach. When time is not of the essence, supplies are sent by sea to Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast, and then transported by truck over the more than 1500 km to Darfur.
"We have a cargo ship en route to Sudan right now carrying blankets and plastic sheeting. But we have decided to supplement this with additional materials sent by air; this way we can be sure that the first supplies will be on the ground by Wednesday morning," says Geir Hurlen Rødven.
Norwegian Church Aid anticipated the onset of wet weather in good time, and has been preparing its camps across the province by building up their stocks for several months already. However, greater movement of the internally displaced population than expected, combined with regular wear-and-tear on the sheets distributed over one year ago, has made a shipment of this size necessary.
Norwegian Church Aid operates in a total of 33 different locations across Sudan's war-torn western province, where it leads the global ecumenical relief programme under the ACT/Caritas banner. This programme has brought aid and assistance, in one way or another, to up to 467,000 people in Darfur over the last twelve months.
For more information, contact:
Geir Hurlen Rødven, Logistics Officer, Norwegian Church Aid, tel. (+47) 22 09 28 03, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kari =D8yen, Programme Coordinator, Eastern Africa, tel. (+47) 22 09 27 94, E-mail: email@example.com
Laurie MacGregor, Press Officer, tel. (+47) 22 09 27 32, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org