By Daniel Emmons, SP staff member
With the rainy season having closed all roads into the Yida refugee camp and supplies of food running low, drastic measures were needed to relieve the threatening food shortage. A decision was made to airdrop 3000 metric tons (150 semi loads) of food from the World Food Program.
The plan included using huge Ilyushin-76 cargo planes, which would drop 32 metric tons of food per flight. The flights would have to commence as soon as possible and continue six days per week for a period of almost two months in order to supply the needs of the ever-growing refugee population.
The Yida refugee camp came into being as a result of people fleeing across the border into South Sudan because of the on-going conflict in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. This area has suffered great persecution. The government in Khartoum has dropped bombs on them, and forced them to hide in caves for their own safety.
Death from above at the hands of their own government and starvation due to the lack of food has combined to create a humanitarian crisis. Between 50,000 to 60,000 refugees have made the long and arduous journey to the Yida refugee camp, which is located in the vast wilderness area of northern Unity State of South Sudan. Samaritans Purse has been providing humanitarian aid to the camp since August, 2011, soon after the first refugees began arriving.
There is a small, dirt airstrip on the outskirts of the camp that is used to fly people in and out and for small shipments of supplies. For the drop to be safe and successful, it was necessary