The UN refugee agency has intensified its humanitarian aid to Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad. As part of that effort, the French military is airlifting emergency supplies from Denmark to the eastern town of Abeche. It began flying in some 40 metric tons of material over the weekend.

Jennifer Clark is a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. From the capital, N?djamena, she spoke with English to Africa reporter Cole Mallard, who asked her for a brief history leading up to the UNHCR?s present effort. She says the UNHCR has flown more than 2700 metric tons of aid into Chad since the beginning of the year, when the area was basically a desert. She says the French military airlift help is making the deliveries much faster than could be done by trucking supplies from the capital over ?pretty difficult? roads, as has been the case previously.

Ms. Clark says, ?Cholera response kits? are the most important tool they have to head off impending cases. She adds that extra telecommunications equipment is included because of the ?huge area? of operation in the ?600 kilometer stretch of border where the refugees are? in eastern Chad. Ms. Clark says, ?Funds have been very difficult to come by all along in this operation? and that the UNHCR has asked donors for 55.8 million dollars; so far it?s received $33 million. She says ?the needs are huge; funds have sometimes been slow in coming and this is an operation where we need the funds up front.?

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