First French flight of Darfur aid touches down

17th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

GOZ BEIDA, Chad, June 17, 2007 (AFP) - The first flight of a French air bridge to ferry humanitarian aid to victims of the Darfur crisis touched down Sunday in this town in eastern Chad.

GOZ BEIDA, Chad, June 17, 2007 (AFP) - The first flight of a French air bridge to ferry humanitarian aid to victims of the Darfur crisis touched down Sunday in this town in eastern Chad.

The French military Transall, travelling from Chad's capital N'Djamena, landed just before 7 am (0600 GMT) at an airstrip just outside Goz Beida, which is 90 kilometres (50 miles) from the Sudanese border.

"To start with, we will be transporting from N'Djamena priority items -- mats, water bottles, blankets and so forth -- that are sorely lacking as the rainy season nears," Colonel Jean-Bruno Vautrey, head of the French military in Chad, told AFP.

Two-thirds of the 150,000 Chadians displaced by communal and transborder fighting are in the Dar Sila region that includes Goz Beida, along with 40,000 refugees from Darfur.

Vautrey said the air bridge would continue "so long as the state of the runway is not put in danger and there is a need (for aid) to fulfill. Aid will be evaluated once a week."

Some 50 French military personnel are currently in Goz Beida.

The air bridge was announced earlier this month by the new French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, who stressed the "urgency" of the situation in the region with the onset of the rainy season.

In a statement in Rome on Saturday, the World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed the air bridge, saying it would "help avoid any critical gaps in our operation to feed thousands of people".

"WFP had needed to pre-position a six-month supply of food to feed 240,000 Sudanese refugees in 12 camps and 150,000 internally displaced people in the east through the rainy season from June to November," the UN food agency said.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

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