08.10.2014 | Blog

Airdrops - Aid from the Air

How and where we are supporting refugees in South Sudan.

Distribution of aid supplies in South Sudan.
Distribution of aid supplies in South Sudan. © Welthungerhilfe

The war in South Sudan has displaced more than 1.3 million people from their home regions. They have to seek out protection in refugee camps or with host families in remote villages where they are safe. There they are lacking the most basic items for survival. We are helping refugees with food and aid packages delivered from the air.

Rebels and mud: Roads are impassable

The long conflict is having catastrophic effects on the food supplies for people: the fields in South Sudan have not been cultivated since the spring. Harvests could not be brought in and reserves have long since been used up. In the overcrowded camps and in the villages, hunger is the order of the day.

Providing the war refugees with the most necessary goods is, however, a logistical challenge: many refugee camps lie in regions that are difficult to reach. During the rainy season, the roads turn into impassable mud tracks. In addition, rebels control the still-passable transport routes in the North and around the Nile. As a result, many families are completely cut off from the outside world.

Airdrops are insufficient

"At the moment in Bentiu we can only distribute half rations to the families", explains Mika. "There is an insufficient number of aeroplanes and helicopters to drop enough food. Together with the World Food Programme, we are planning further airdrops until the end of December, as it will be of some duration until people can plant seeds again and provide for themselves."

"Logistics and luck both play an important role in our work here in South Sudan", explains aid worker Jürgen Mika. He coordinates the relief flights locally. "We are carrying out airdrops in two locations: in Ganyiel and Nyal. In the future, food should also be dropped over Bentiu. Logistics are in demand, as the aeroplanes carrying the important staple foods come from the capital city Juba as well as from Ethiopia and Uganda. And you need luck that there are breaks in the rain sometimes: a good view is essential for dropping the relief packages and the valuable load should not become soaked through or sink into the mud or swampy areas.

How does an airdrop work? 

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