US CONSUL-general in Durban Sherry Sykes with Michael Hutchins, left, and Colonel Jason Terry of the US Air Force at King Shaka International Airport yesterday. The US Department of Defence is airlifting food and other humanitarian aid supplies from Durban to Mozambique. Sibusiso Ndlovu African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - The UN World Food Programme (WFP)and the US Department of Defence are flying over 2000 tons of food and supplies to cyclone hit areas of Mozambique.

The airlift, which began on Saturday from King Shaka International Airport, comes from the WFP’s internal stocks.

The US consul-general in Durban, Sherry Sykes, who was at the airport yesterday to see off one of the shipments, thanked the South African Department of International Relations and Co-operation and Airports Company South Africa for their invaluable assistance.

“The US Air Force have been going 24 hours for the last day and a half and they will continue for the next several days just out of the Durban airport. They’ll be coming in and out every few hours,” said Sykes.

She said the devastation was widespread and required a humanitarian response from the global community.

“Everything is needed - from food to sanitation, dealing with health issues broadly and infrastructure across the board,” said Sykes.

She said apart from the shipments, the US had provided nearly $3.4 million (R49m) in additional funding for the WFP to deliver approximately 2500 metric tons of rice, peas, and vegetable oil to affected people.

This lifesaving emergency food assistance will support approximately 160000 people for one month.

She added that US assistance in Mozambique had been ongoing even prior to cyclone Idai.

She said the US government had provided nearly $7.3m in humanitarian assistance to help people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi who have been affected by Cyclone Idai, as well as flooding that occurred earlier this month.

She added that the US government has pulled together its department of defence and other agencies represented in their mission in South Africa to help with the operation.

“The most important message is that a humanitarian crisis can hit any of us at any moment in time and we all have to be prepared to do our part to the extent that we can,” said Sykes

The Mercury