$1 mln fund keeps UN air service alive: Chad

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Humanitarian workers assisting over 430 000 vulnerable people in Chad will be able to get to where they need to go thanks to $1 million (R8 million) in new funding from the US for UN-run aid flights operating in the West African nation.
The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) plays a vital role in accessing remote locations and in cases where insecurity prevents travel by road.
Run by the World Food Programme (WFP), the service flies aid workers from the UN NGOs, as well as journalists and others, to some of the hardest-to-reach emergency operations around the world, UN News Centre reports.
In Chad alone, some 5000 aid workers per month use UNHAS to help 250 000 refugees from the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur, as well as 180 000 internally displaced persons.
WFP`s Emilia Casella told reporters in Geneva that despite the new funds, the service would shut down half of its operations by 15 September, and be grounded altogether by 30 September, without more resources.
The Chad flights need another $5.7 million (46 million) to stay in the air until the end of the year, she noted.
With a 2009 budget of $160 million (R1308 million), the air service operates in Chad, Sudan, Somalia, the DRC, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic (CAR), West Africa and Afghanistan.



Pic: Nigerian troop in Darfur standing infront of UN chopper