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Conflicts Place Heavy Demands on World Food Program



From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.

The World Food Program says the increasing number of conflicts in the first half of this year has created a huge demand for food aid. The WFP says it has had to use airplanes to transport 50 times more food this year than in the first half of last year. The planes drop food into areas that are difficult to reach by land.

The group's air service is called UNHAS - the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service. UNHAS planes carry food to people who cannot be reached by roads of rivers. UNHAS has transported about 7,600 tons of food so far this year. The planes have also flown more than 1000 tons of supplies and equipment to 21 countries for the WFP and other aid organizations. More than 90 percent of the supplies went to just three countries - Central African Republic, South Sudan and Syria. Conflicts in those countries have displaced millions of people.

Cesar Arroyo is the WFP's flight chief. He says more than 3 million people in South Sudan alone are in need of food. He says about half of them cannot be reached easily, and need help immediately. Mr. Arroyo also says it is about six to eight times more costly to transport food and other supplies by air than by road. He says it costs $1 billion a year to use emergency transport planes to carry food and other supplies to areas of South Sudan. The WFP official says the situation in northern Iraq is becoming more difficult. The Sunni Islamist militant offensive has displaced many people. Hundreds of thousands of people fled to Irbil in Kurdistan from Mosul when the militants seized that city in June.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.