Belgium steps up aid to Darfur
11 August 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgium is to send a C-130 Hercules plane to assist the humanitarian relief effort in Sudan, it emerged on Wednesday.
The Belgian air force plane will assist the Darfur region of Sudan, which has been ravaged by civil war since February 2003.
According to the United Nations, 50,000 people have died in the conflict and over one million are displaced in the Darfur region and across the border in Chad.
It will begin its one-month mission on 15 August and will be stationed in the country’s capital, Khartoum.
“The plane and its team will be used to transport material and humanitarian personnel, medicines and even vehicles or fuel,” said lieutenant-colonel Mike De Coninck, in charge of the 15th Wing division that owns the C-130 planes.
“In the last phase of its mission, it will also carry food,” he said, adding that this would take place under the UN’s aerial humanitarian programme.
In theory, the plane should transport goods from airport to airport, but aerial drops of supplies may also be necessary.
In this case, two techniques are possible.
The first is known as the VLAGES method, which stands for Very Low Altitude Gravity Extraction System.
Here, the plane can drop material or food in quantities of 25 to 50kg by parachute at a low altitude at 20 to 30 metre intervals.
In dangerous situations it would revert to dropping larger quantities of up to 50 000 individually packed food rations from a higher altitude every 300 to 600m.
The mission, in which 16 Belgian military personnel will take part, is expected to cost around EUR 710,000.
It was given the final go-ahead after a visit of Belgian Development Minister Armand de Decker to the region in July.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news