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Sudan: Air Serv expands relief fleet in Darfur crisis

Humanitarian Aircraft Added in Face of Mounting Deaths
The crisis created by the abuses by militia in Darfur, Sudan, has created “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with one million people forced to flee their homes.” — United Nations

WARRENTON, Virginia, July 22, 2004 — Air Serv International, the humanitarian air service, has sent a second aircraft to the Chad/Sudan border region to assist in the relief effort for Sudanese refugees from Darfur. Air Serv is flying a Cessna 208B Caravan in collaboration with the UNHCR to serve the total humanitarian community now working with increasing numbers of refugees along the border, now estimated at over 200,000. The plane is based in Abeche, on the eastern border of Chad.

“This second aircraft is necessary because of the significant needs of the refugees, the serious accessibility challenges within the area as the rains begin, and the issue of security for the humanitarian staff,” said Air Serv president Stuart Willcuts.

The United Nations says fighting between Arab Janjaweed militias and African rebels in Darfur, western Sudan, has killed some 30,000 people and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with more than 1 million people forced to flee their homes.

Air Serv’s Chad Program Director MJ Uys said: “The rain has caused widespread disease and food shortages, and make it absolutely impossible to drive across the wadi’s that now look like raging rivers. The plane has become the only means of transportation for NGO’s and the UNHCR.”

Yesterday, the United States accused Sudan’s government of backing the Janjaweed in a campaign of ethnic cleansing marked by burning and looting of villages, murder and rape.

On Thursday, the Air Serv Caravan evacuated from the border region to N’djamena a French national working for OXFAM who collapsed due to a serious viral infection. Doctors indicated that the humanitarian worker would have died if air transport had not been available, Uys said.

Air Serv International is a humanitarian organization that excels in transportation and communication links. Air Serv provides safe, reliable, and cost effective air transport to humanitarian agencies involved in relief and development activities