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Cargo carriers assist in Horn of Africa crisis

By control on August 3, 2011

The United Nations Children’s Fund has urged cargo carriers to offer up their services to ship humanitarian supplies from UNICEF’s warehouses in Belgium, France and Italy to the Horn of Africa. The region, which has been ravaged by a famine, requires approximately 5,000 tonnes of food and supplementary aid, according to a UNICEF spokesperson.

“The caseload is quite extraordinary,” Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF’s director of emergency programs, said in a statement. “Having the airlines support us would be most welcome, and I think there’s a lot of goodwill out there to do just that.”

British Airways, Lufthansa, UPS, Virgin and Cargolux have already offered the relief organization free or discounted space to transport freight. Although UNICEF officials are optimistic about this development, they implore more airlines to join the cause.

One carrier that has done just that is Chapman Freeborn. Working on behalf of the German international aid organization Humedica, the aircraft charter specialist has shipped goods from Europe and the Middle East to the area. In fact, Chapman Freeborn has flown vast amounts of supplies, including protein bars and kitchen sets, to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa Bole International Airport Guide and Somalia’s Aden-Adde International Airport.

It’s efforts like this that UNICEF officials applaud. After all, they warn, if enough food fails to reach Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia, its citizens could die of starvation. What’s more, they said, 12.4 million people currently require aid, a number of which are children.

“There are over 2.3 million acutely malnourished children in the Horn of Africa,” UNICEF Spokesperson Marixie Mercado said in a statement. “More than half a million will die if they do not get help within weeks. [But] with therapeutic feeding, a child can fully recuperate in a matter of four to six weeks.”

Air transport might soon be a mode of the past for UNICEF, however. Because shipping goods by air is so costly, the humanitarian organization is currently building a pipeline to transport cargo by sea.

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