The U.N. World Food Program announced Monday that it will begin an airlift of food aid into parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya on Tuesday.
One of the Good Samaritan organizations that is helping with relief in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa is Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).
Tim Vennell, MAF Operations Director for Kenya and South Sudan, said his organization has increased its capacity in the form of additional aircraft to respond to the humanitarian needs in the Horn of Africa.
An internally displaced woman holds her malnourished son at a new settlement in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, July 19, 2011.
“Most of the work that we do in the Horn of Africa has to do with, at least currently, taking in assessment teams from many different organizations. They range anywhere from mission agencies with the Lutheran Church Service all the way down to Médecins Sans Frontières [Doctors Without Borders] teams that need to go in, and they are doing an assessment right now,” he said.
He said MAF pilots have been unable to fly into Somalia due to security concerns created by the militant group al-Shababa.
“We’ve been asked to by a number of organizations, but those organizations have not been able to guarantee for their own people as well as for us to come in. The requests are starting to flow, but there’s still a reluctance and especially with al-Shabab making their statement just this week that they are not so keen on opening up. But there’s still a much desire to move into that region,” he said.
Mission Aviation Fellowship describes itself as a family of organizations with a singular mission “to share the love of Jesus through aviation and technology so that isolated people may be physically and spiritually transformed”.
Vennell said MAF charges a reduced fee to agencies for its services.
“We ask for a subsidized rate because MAF is supported and the fact that our pilots and our international staff come supported into the organization, we are able to pass on reduced rates to NGOs,” Vennell said.
He said MAF is also working with over 150 partners in south Sudan after that country recently gained its independence.