UN food agency hails 10 million UK donation to Pakistan quake relief

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a $10 million contribution from the United Kingdom to help operate a helicopter fleet bringing assistance to the survivors of the massive earthquake that hit Pakistan last October. Michael Jones, WFP’s Emergency Coordinator in Pakistan, voiced gratitude for the donation, which he said came in addition to advice that the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has provided. The money will help the UN airlift operation to continue until the end of March, while some of it will also secure the operation of four MI-8 helicopters until the beginning of May. The UN Humanitarian Air Cargo and Passenger Services running the helicopter operation in Pakistan has received less than half of the $100 million it is seeking to continue providing life-saving support.Officials are warning that if additional funding does not come in, the current operation may have to stop in the second half of March. Since the earthquake hit the mountainous region of Pakistan-administered Kashmir on 8 October, killing over 73,000 people and rendering millions homeless, air operations have been vital for reaching hundreds of thousands of people, WFP said. This is all the more true now that winter has set in. Thanks to the helicopters, WFP was able to pre-position food in high altitude areas which are no longer accessible due to the snowfall. That food will assist hundreds of thousands of people living in these areas for up to two months.

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