x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UN flying aid from Dubai to Turkey

Blankets, tents and other supplies are being flown to Turkey following an earthquake that left thousands homeless.

DUBAI// A United Nations humanitarian flight carrying nearly 10,000 blankets and 500 tents leaves Dubai today for eastern Turkey.

The flight to Erzurum marks the fourth airlift since Friday by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from its central emergency stockpile in Dubai to help victims of Turkey's October 23 earthquake.

The 7.2 magnitude earthquake killed more than 450 people, injured 1,300 and left tens of thousands homeless.

In the past four days, an Illusion-76 UN cargo plane has carried more than 144 tonnes of relief materials - mainly 40,000 blankets and 2,000 tents - from Dubai after the Turkish Red Crescent appealed for help.

The UN refugee agency did not rule out future humanitarian flights from Dubai.

"The relief efforts are being led by the Turkish government and currently it is difficult to predict whether the airlift will be the limit of UNHCR's involvement in this crisis, or if we will have a greater role to play in this emergency," said Brigitte Khair Mountain, the organisation's head and senior adviser in Abu Dhabi.

Supplies arriving by plane will be loaded onto trucks and taken to the city of Van and surrounding areas for distribution.

After Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, ordered humanitarian agencies in the Emirates to provide emergency relief, eight government agencies held a coordination meeting in Abu Dhabi last Tuesday.

The organisations are awaiting permission from Turkish authorities to send a delegation to determine the needs of the local population.

pkannan@thenational.ae