The UN is to fly in food aid for up to a million people affected by the Ebola outbreak wreaking havoc in west Africa, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.
With states of emergency and severe restrictions on movement imposed in the three worst-hit countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the UN agency is bringing in its own aircraft to make sure food gets through to quarantined areas.
"The restrictions on movement in the most affected areas threatens food security," WFP spokeswoman Fabienne Pompey said. "Commerce is affected, people cannot get to their fields, and prices rise at the markets so the poorest have trouble feeding themselves."
The WFP is already feeding several thousand people in the worst affected areas, including the families of victims who have been quarantined, orphans and old people and hunters hit by the ban on the sale of bushmeat.
With several commercial carriers suspending flights to the region because of the epidemic, she said the agency is starting up a new humanitarian service on Saturday with an aircraft based in the Guinean capital Conakry, which will link the capitals of the three countries.
She said two helicopters will also be brought in to deliver aid to the most isolated areas.