MAF responds to famine crisis in Africa
July 25, 2011, Nairobi, Kenya - Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is sending an airplane from its operations in South Africa to help strengthen its response to the current famine in the Horn of Africa.
Over the past week, MAF has been providing flights for NGO’s, relief missions, ambassadors and high commissioners of Canada, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the USA, all of whom are travelling into the overcrowded Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya to assess the situation. This assessment will be used to help aid agencies prioritize their relief efforts.
Thousands of refugees continue to flood into Dadaab daily, carrying the hope that they will be able to receive aid at what is now the world’s largest refugee camp. Dadaab was established to shelter 90,000 people; its current population is nearly 500,000.
Canadian pilots Michael Dupuis of Calgary and Daniel Loewen-Rudgers of Winnipeg are based with MAF in Nairobi, where they help operate a fleet of 7 aircraft, with the inclusion of the Cessna Grand Caravan brought up from South Africa.
The MAF Kenya operation base has been overloaded with flight requests due to the present famine; the increase in aircraft will make an immediate difference to the work of aid agencies and missions operating across East Africa.
To maximize flight capacity, MAF crews have also been working into the night so that the planes are ready for take-off early each morning. MAF Uganda operations are handling additional flight requests into the newly formed nation of South Sudan, in order that MAF Kenya can focus on famine relief.
The United Nations officially declared a famine in parts of East Africa on Wednesday, though the situation has been building for many months. It is estimated that across the region over 11 million people are facing a hunger crisis caused by several years of severe drought.
MAF is a Christian charity formed in 1946 by World War II veteran pilots who wanted to use their skills for good purposes. Today, MAF operates 142 light aircraft to provide flights for more than 1,400 relief organizations and churches bringing help and hope to some of the world’s poorest and most isolated communities.
At present, about 50 Canadian pilots, aircraft mechanics and school teachers, along with their families, live in 20 countries to serve with MAF.