Aid parcels flown to starving young
Aid parcels that will save the lives of thousands of children in famine-ravaged parts of Africa have been flown out of Britain.
Half a million sachets of food that will help malnourished children in Somalia left Heathrow on a commercial flight bound for Nairobi on Tuesday night.
From there the boxes of food, medical supplies and equipment to gather fresh water will be driven in trucks to Lower Shabelle and Bakool in south Somalia, two of the areas worst hit by famine.
The boxes, which were sent by charity Unicef, contained sachets of the emergency food Plumpynut, a peanut paste that can be easily digested by malnourished children.
Three pallets of boxes of life saving materials, with the words "Emergency food rations" on the side, were loaded on to a Virgin Atlantic plane after the airline donated 50 tonnes of cargo weight to help transport aid to the country. One of the airline's planes will carry aid boxes to Somalia every night this week.
Gemma Parkin, a spokesman for Unicef, said the crates of food and supplies would make a huge difference to lives of children in Somalia. She said: "This is absolutely vital. At the moment children are dying at a rate of 250 a day, that is one child every six minutes, dying of starvation and what they need most is food.
"Plumpynut is the number one priority for Unicef. If we are able to ship out more supplies from Europe where it is made and get it into the hands of the families in Somalia where it is needed, we will be able to save some of those 250 children who are dying.
"Malnourishment is hugely rife, not just in Somalia but in the neighbouring countries, and food is our ultimate priority.
"Public donations are absolutely crucial for us to be able to send supplies and we would like to thank the UK public for donating £4 million last month and would appeal to anyone who can donate to do so. A week's supply of food, which only costs £5, is so little for us but it is the turning point for a child that has maybe been surviving on only a few grains of rice a day."
Ms Parkin added that being able to send the food to Africa for free with a commercial airline halved the cost of getting aid to the people that need it.