11 August 2013

Sudan: WFP Brings More Helicopters for Jonglei Operation

The World Food Programme (WFP) has brought three more helicopters in South Sudan to help in operations to deliver food items in violence hit Pibor County in Jonglei state.

Last month WFP appealed to donors for about $20 million to address logistical challenges that it was facing to deliver assistance until December to 60,000 affected by conflict in Jonglei.

On Wednesday, WFP announced that it had received pledges enabling them to hire three more helicopters.

"This will enable us to airlift food for 30,000 people for the next three months," WFP spokesperson George Fominyen was quoted as saying in a story on the website of United Nations Mission In South Sudan.

The WFP spokesperson added that the agency was looking for additional funding to cover costs for more food.

But even with the addition of more helicopters, the WFP Country Director in South Sudan, Chris Nikoi, said the agency will still face logistical challenges in delivering aid to vulnerable communities.

"It is ... going to be logistically challenging because the amount of food that we are transporting ... is not going to be enough, given the humanitarian needs on the ground," said Chris Nikoi.

"The reality is that this conflict caused the people, especially (around) Pibor, to completely miss the planting season and (they) have not been able to cultivate during this rainy season," the WFP director added.

WFP says about 18,000 displaced people have received food over the past few weeks in areas of Pibor County, with distributions in Dorein, Labrab, Pibor town and Gumruk.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates that 100,000 people in Pibor have been cut off from critical assistance due to violence.

In a humanitarian bulletin on South Sudan covering the period between 29 July-4th August OCHA announced that aid agencies had suspended distribution in Pibor County due to insecurity. At the time of writing this report it was not yet known whether food distribution had resumed.

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