Oxfam’s mercy flights deliver hope to Africa

Oxfam,Bicester loading relief items for Africa.'110809M-A334
Oxfam,Bicester loading relief items for Africa.'110809M-A334

OXFAM’S Bicester logistics base and British Airways are working together to reach thousands of people affected by the East Africa food crisis.

Last week, visiting British Airways staff applauded as they watched lorries full of sanitation equipment leaving Oxfam’s Arkwright Road warehouse on their way to the airport.

Severe droughts in parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya have resulted in the worst food crisis in 20 years, leaving more than 12 million lives at risk from famine and disease.

British Airways is supporting relief work by delivering aid supplies to where they are most needed, as well as holding in-flight collections.

A Boeing 747 freighter with capacity for 110 tonnes left for Ethiopia last Friday, carrying aid from Oxfam and UNICEF.

Barbara Stocking, Oxfam’s chief executive, said the charity is now reaching more than a million people in East Africa.

She added: “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 Disasters Emergency Committee will help fund even more life-saving work in the region.”

The aircraft carried 5km of water pipe from Oxfam to supply water to the Dolo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia. Food and medical supplies from UNICEF were also taken.

British Airways had already flown out more than seven tonnes of water tanks, tapstands, pipes and water pumps from Oxfam as free cargo on a scheduled flight to Nairobi the previous week.

Aid workers have also been given free flights to help them reach the worst-affected areas as quickly as possible.

Keith Williams, British Airways’ chief executive, said: “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.”

Oxfam humanitarian director Jane Cocking, who was at the airport when the flight departed on Friday last week, said it was a moving sight to see the aircraft loaded with supplies.

She added: “It is thanks to the huge support we have received from the British public and organisations such as British Airways that we can get this vital equipment to where it is needed.”

She said close to 2,000 desperate people were arriving at the Dolo Ado refugee camp every day.

The BA8590 flight, crewed by British Airways’ partner Global Supply Systems, flew direct from Stansted Airport to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Suban Ibrahim Kusow and her family have been living at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya for more than two months after making the journey across the border in Somalia.

Oxfam is supplying clean water and sanitation for a new extension to the camp, which Suban and her family are relocating to.

“I’m so happy to have water for drinking and washing, it makes everything clean and my children’s health will be OK when they drink it,” Suban said.

“When my children drank the dirty water they had very bad diarrhoea and vomiting, but now that we’re here they’re much better,” she added.

For the latest information on Oxfam’s work and the East Africa appeal, visit www.oxfam.org.uk.

Donations can be made online or on 0300 2001300.