U.N. Airlifts Food to Georgia Conflict Victims


United Nations : Two cargo airplanes chartered by the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) departed early Wednesday for Tbilisi, Georgia with 34 tons of high-energy food to assist thousands of people displaced by the recent conflict.

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U.N. officials say about 100,000 people have been displaced since heavy fighting began last Thursday between Georgian and South Ossetian forces, with some having fled to different parts of the country and others going to North Ossetia in Russia.

WFP said two airplanes departed from the U.N. humanitarian response center in Brindisi, Italy. The food will be in addition to in-country food supplies that WFP started distributing over the weekend to thousands of people.

“The number of people in need of food assistance continues to escalate,” WFP Georgia director Lola Castro said, adding that more than 10,000 people were already registered as displaced.

WFP will distribute 2,300 rations Wednesday, with more planned for the following days. The agency has been providing 10-day food rations to over 4,500 displaced people living in shelters in the capital.

Before the conflict erupted late last week, WFP was providing food to more than 212,000 people, mainly in poor rural communities, as well as to primary-school students.

On Tuesday, a humanitarian airlift charged by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) arrived in Georgia, bringing 34 tons of humanitarian supplies. A second UNHCR flight is scheduled for Wednesday.