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UNHCR launches massive airlift for tsunami victims with support from TNT and DHL


A giant Antonov 124 cargo plane loaded with 100 tonnes of relief supplies left Denmark early Sunday to spearhead a massive UNHCR airlift operation aimed at providing vital aid to 100,000 people in Indonesia’s tsunami-battered Aceh province. In all, the three-day airlift operation will deliver 400 tonnes of aid from UNHCR stockpiles in Denmark and Dubai.

On the ground, meanwhile, UNHCR’s logistics and supply teams started setting up advance bases in northern Sumatra to ensure rapid delivery of the incoming aid for Aceh, while the refugee agency continued its round-the-clock relief operations in Sri Lanka.

Sunday’s first aircraft from Billund headed for Jakarta packed with plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans from UNHCR’s central warehouse in Copenhagen, as well as essential telecommunications equipment. Three further flights using Antonov 124s and an Ilyushin 76 are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday from Billund. In all, a total of 20,000 plastic sheets, 100,000 blankets, 20,000 kitchen sets and 20,000 jerry cans from UNHCR’s Copenhagen warehouse will be airlifted to Indonesia.

Some logistical constraints are being swept aside as private companies generously offer UNHCR free assistance and resources. The global express delivery company TNT (Global Express, Logistics and Mail) on Saturday offered free use of its fleet of trucks to transport the 400 tonnes of UNHCR aid from Medan to Banda Aceh. In Jakarta, DHL – a global delivery company – has offered free transit warehousing for all the relief items on UNHCR’s airlift coming from Denmark this week.