UNHRD dispatches relief items to flood victims in West Africa

The United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD), in Accra has dispatched the ninth shipment of urgently needed relief items to victims of recent floods which have hit West Africa. A statement issued in Accra on Thursday by the World Food Programme (WFP), said tarpaulins, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and other items have been sent to countries across the region including Burkina Faso and Niger, on behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC). It said since the onset of the floods, much-needed essential items including medicines and drugs from the World Health Organisation (WHO), sanitation and kitchen supplies for the IFRC and high energy biscuits for WFP have been dispatched to flood victims in countries including Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger and Senegal. “The UNHRD in Accra continues to play a critical role in helping vulnerable people affected by emergencies all over Africa,” Mr Martin Walsh, the Depot Manager said. “By dispatching needed items from Accra to other parts of the continent, we have almost halved the amount of time which would have been used to transport these urgent supplies from the next closest depot in Europe and also significantly reduced costs for organizations using the Ghana facilities,” he added. The statement said the Accra UNHRD was part of a global network of five hubs which WFP established to enable humanitarian organizations respond to emergencies within 24 to 48 hours. The depots are strategically located to serve the whole world at; Brindisi/Italy for Europe, northern and eastern Africa, Accra/Ghana for the rest of Africa; Dubai/UAE for the Middle East; Subang/Malaysia for South East Asia and Panama City/Panama for Latin America. It said UNHRD network was managed by WFP, but provided emergency response facilities such as storage, logistics support and services to the UN family, international humanitarian agencies, governmental and non-governmental organizations. Currently the IFRC, Irish Aid; SWISS Red Cross, WFP, WHO, UNHCR and UNFPA, are some of the users of the 12,500 metre square depot in Accra. Since operations began in 2007, the Accra depot has dispatched critically needed items to 42 emergencies in 17 African countries including Liberia, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Central African Republic, Niger, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The depot played a key role in transporting high energy biscuits and river boats to flood affected victims in parts of northern Ghana in 2007. Donors for the Accra warehouse include the Government of Ghana which donated land for its construction, Ireland, Italy, European Union, USA, France, Norway, Netherlands, Greece, Australia and Canada. WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide and expected to feed 108 million people in 74 countries in 2009.