As the rains and floods continue in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia – the UN World Food Program is gearing up for a major relief operation.
Peter Smeardon is a spokesman for the WFP in Nairobi. He told VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about a major airlift operation.
“The status is it’s been launched, but we need to get the aircraft together, get the fuel together, decide where they’re (planes) are going to be based and get the permission for them to fly. And that sometimes is a little bit difficult as it’s dealing both with Kenya and Somalia. So, it’s being built up. It’s not yet operational,” he says.
Supplies are ready to be loaded onto the aircraft. Smeardon says, “We’ve actually got food in warehouses in Kenya, both in the flood affected districts and in Nairobi obviously. The difficulty is moving it around. That’s why we need the fixed wing aircraft to do airlifts and air drops both in Kenya and Somalia and helicopters in particular to go to areas which are cutoff by the floods and people are marooned.”
The first air drops will be made to Somalia where nearly one million people have been affected by the floods. Air drops to Kenya would follow. Smeardon says aid is also being sent to parts of Ethiopia.
“We’re supplying food aid in southwest Ethiopia…there are perhaps half a million people affected in Ethiopia by the current floods. That’s dying down a bit,” he says.
Smeardon says normally the “short” rains normally end in December, but weather experts say this year they may continue into January.