- Title: IVORY COAST: UN suspends aid flights due to budgetary constraints
- Date: 20th March 2009
- Summary: ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST (MARCH 19, 2009) (REUTERS) UN PLANE MOVING ON THE TARMAC.
- Embargoed: 4th April 2009 13:00
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVAKKZ0YYSM2DJ14HRDVH8XTSMU
- Story Text: A humanitarian air service run by the World Food Programme, serving Guinea, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone - some of the poorest countries in the world and all recovering from recent conflicts - is to stop because of a shortage of funds.
The World Food Programme (WFP) said this week that the service, which costs the UN half a million U.S dollars a month and uses chartered helicopters and aircraft to ferry aid workers and supplies to remote parts areas in the region, would be suspended on Friday, March 20.
Wagdi Othman, deputy director of the World Food Program in Abidjan called the move a death blow for thousands who depend on the service.
"These four countries remain very affected by insecurity, by the lack roads connecting the capital to towns in the interior. So, therefore, this situation is really very difficult and will no doubt force certain NGO's to stop operating in certain parts of the territory, putting millions of people who depend on humanitarian aid in peril," Othman said.
Air services provide humanitarian aid to areas that are not reachable by land, providing vulnerable people with medical care, food, water and sanitation, and other crucial services, according to the World Food Programme.
A halt to the service would also leave the UN without the capacity to carry out medical or security evacuations of its own and other humanitarian agency personnel.
There are 250 humanitarian agencies now working to deliver aid in the affected West African countries, according to the WFP.
The suspension follows the halting of air deliveries to Niger in February, and temporary shutdowns of flights to the Central African Republic, Niger, and Sudan last year because of budget constraints that have worsened for aid groups since the onset of the world economic crisis.
"What we are seeing today for the four countries in the region, that is to say, the lack of funds is being also felt in operations in Chad or Sudan where the World Food Programme (WFP) is also short of funding. If this situation continues, WFP will be forced to end humanitarian flights elsewhere in Africa," Othman said.
Donor funds from the European Union, United States, Britain, Canada, Spain and the Netherlands amounted to 115 million US dollars million last year, far below the 193 million US dollars budgeted for the flights.
Aid workers in West Africa have said they will have extreme difficulty doing their work without the helicopters and aircraft to help them reach places where roads and bridges are impassable or where security problems make road journeys unsafe.
Worldwide, the U.N. air service last year carried 15,000 tonnes of humanitarian cargo and 360,000 U.N. staff, aid workers, donors and media staff.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None