, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 5 – British Airways is flying a relief aircraft full of emergency supplies and equipment to victims of the food crisis in East Africa, where over eleven million people are directly at risk of starvation.
A Boeing 747 freighter with capacity for up to 110 tonnes of cargo, is scheduled to fly to Ethiopia on Friday, August 12, carrying aid from Oxfam and UNICEF.
Following severe drought, resulting in the worst food crisis the world has seen for 20 years, the two charities are among those working in the region to bring much-needed relief to over 12 million people at risk from famine, disease and drought across Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.
The aircraft will be carrying 5,000 meters of pipe from Oxfam, which will be used to supply much-needed water to the Dolo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia, as well as vital emergency food and medical supplies from UNICEF.
British Airways’ customers are also playing their part. For two weeks from August 1, all donations onboard every British Airways flight will go to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal for East Africa.
British Airways has already begun helping the relief effort by carrying over seven and a half tonnes of water tanks, tapstands, pipes and water pumps from Oxfam as free cargo, earlier this week, on a scheduled flight to Nairobi.
The airline is also giving Oxfam free flights to Kenya to get 40 relief experts into the worst affected areas as quickly as possible.
Keith Williams, British Airways’ Chief Executive, said: “The worst drought in 50 years means the lives of millions of people hang in the balance. The generosity of our customers will make a real and tangible difference to those in desperate need.
“It is vital that we get aid from charities like Oxfam and UNICEF to the most seriously affected areas across East Africa. We want to do what we can to help those caught up in this terrible crisis.”
Barbara Stocking, Oxfam’s Chief Executive, said: “We have been moved to see the generosity of the British public over the last month and Oxfam is now reaching over a million people in East Africa. But there is still much more to be done.
“British Airways is showing incredible hands-on support for the relief effort, delivering vital supplies straight to where they are so desperately needed and flying our emergency staff into the region to work on the ground.
“Not only is their support worth over £250,000 in cost savings to Oxfam but the donations from their customers to the DEC will help fund even more life-saving work in the region.”
David Bull, UNICEF UK’s executive director, said: “When children are facing famine, because crops have failed, because food is scarce, it’s time to share a little of what we’ve got. British Airways has been extremely generous in sharing its cargo space.
“This means that UNICEF can buy more emergency food supplies and can deliver life saving food to hungry children much faster. In South Somalia alone, 250 children are dying every day.
“British Airways responded to UNICEF’s appeal and donated their cargo space travelling to the Horn of Africa. We urge all airlines to follow this fantastic example and share whatever they can.”
British Airways’ charitable partner, Comic Relief, has already donated over £1m to the relief effort.