Bad weather, flight path led to airdrop failure: UN food agency chief

OTTAWA -- Bad weather and a tricky flight path are factors that led to a failed United Nations air drop of humanitarian aid in Syria -- the international organization’s first such attempt inside the war-torn country.

See Full Article

World Food Program chief Ertharin Cousin, whose agency co-ordinates logistics for the UN, took full responsibility for the botched air operation in an interview with CTV News on Thursday.

She said that delivering by air is fraught with challenges.

“One thing we’ve said about air drops from the very beginning is that air drops are a last resort when there is no other way of bringing food to other people.”

Twenty-one pallets, each containing 1 metric ton of aid, were destined for the eastern Syrian city of Deir el-Zour, besieged by Islamic State extremists. Ten of those pallets are unaccounted for, while the rest are badly damaged or did not fall in the target area. The materials could have helped roughly 200,000 trapped civilians the World Food Program has not accessed since 2014.

“What we are doing now is that we are looking at the film from the air drops of what went wrong,” Cousin said. “We have been given permission from Jordan to actually practice with the challenging meteorological situation that winter provides.”

Those test runs will determine whether the WFP can overcome the challenges to attempt another air drop, but Cousin is optimistic. “We we’ll try again… They need us to get this right and we will.”

Another challenge Cousin is facing when it comes to feeding the world’s hungry is climate change, which is why her agency is exploring forecast-based financing. “That means if meteorological data forecast a drought … we can go in with different seeds. So instead of planting maize, you plant cowpeas, which can grow with erratic rains.”

Cousin believes a greater emphasis on weather models can help target at-risk populations before climate-based disasters strike, thereby saving lives and money. It’s a method she says makes vulnerable populations “more resilient, making them less in need of assistance from the international community, giving them the ability to continue to feed their own families.

Cousin’s two-day visit to Ottawa included a meeting with International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau. And even though Canada has failed to meet the foreign aid target set out by the United Nations, Cousin praised Canada.

“Canadian people are one of the most generous donors we have at WFP. And in fact Canada has ranked 3rd, and never less than 4th, in donors to WFP,” she said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • U.S. sets up missile defence system in South Korea as North flexes muscles

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - In a defiant bit of timing, South Korea announced Wednesday that key parts of a contentious U.S. missile defence system had been installed a day after rival North Korea showed off its military power. Source
  • Vigil held for Edmonton toddler found dead near church

    Canada News CTV News
    Hundreds of mourners were expected to gather Tuesday night to honour the life of a toddler whose body was found near an Edmonton church last week. A passerby found 19-month-old Anthony Raine’s body outside the Good Shepherd Anglican Church last Friday. Source
  • Top Mexican official calls U.S. border wall a 'hostile' act

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY - Mexico's foreign relations secretary on Tuesday called U.S. President Donald Trump's plan to build a border wall not only a "bad idea" but an "unfriendly, hostile" act and said he didn't think a barrier would accomplish anything. Source
  • Trump's threat to withhold sanctuary city funds blocked by U.S. federal judge

    World News CBC News
    A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday blocked President Donald Trump's attempt to withhold funding from "sanctuary cities" that do not co-operate with U.S. immigration officials, saying the president has no authority to attach new conditions to federal spending. Source
  • Guards turned off inmate's water supply leading to his death, Milwaukee prosecutors say

    World News CTV News
    Milwaukee prosecutors weighing criminal charges for an inmate's dehydration death said Tuesday that the jail's commander failed to inform police about the existence of surveillance video showing a guard shutting off water to the cell and never turning it back on. Source
  • It's a bouncing baby bison in Banff

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Banff's backcountry has welcomed its first bison babies in 140 years. Three calves have been born to the herd that was recently reintroduced to Banff National Park. The first calf was born in the Panther Valley on April 22 — Earth Day — and since then, two more have joined the group. Source
  • Brazil police arrest 10 men accused of stealing millions in Paraguay

    World News CTV News
    SAO PAULO - Ten men suspected of taking part in a dramatic, multimillion-dollar theft from an armoured car company in a Paraguayan border city have been arrested in Brazil, officials in the Brazilian Federal Police said Tuesday. Source
  • Hearing begins into Canada Post ban on controversial newspaper Your Ward News

    Canada News CBC News
    A board of review hearing began Tuesday into a federal order prohibiting a Toronto-area publication that's been called vile, racist and anti-Semitic from being sent in the mail. The people who run the newspaper Your Ward News are challenging the order put in place in June, 2016, by the then-federal minister responsible for Canada Post. Source
  • Robert Durst's wife told neighbour of beating, threats: detective

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- The missing wife of New York real estate heir Robert Durst once told a neighbour that her husband had beat her and she feared he would kill her, a retired detective testified Tuesday. Source
  • Victim told friend if she was harmed that Robert Durst 'did it'

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Years before Susan Berman was executed in her home, she foretold her fate and named her best friend, New York real estate heir Robert Durst, as her assailant, a close friend testified Tuesday. Source