U.S. group to begin Kosovo food drops Monday
May 28, 1999
From CNN's David Ensor and Kevin Bohn
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The International Rescue Committee (IRC), a U.S. based private relief organization, said Friday that it would begin sustained air drops of food over Kosovo early Monday.
Sources told CNN that the drops, funded by the U.S. government, could last up to 30 days and will involve initially two flights a day from Pescara, Italy.
Each plane will carry at least 4,000 food rations, to be parachuted to the ground on large pallets. Each ration has enough nutrition for one person for one day.
Organizers admit the airdrops will supply only a "very small portion" of what is needed. Refugees who have left Kosovo in the last few weeks paint a dire picture of the food situation inside the province, and humanitarian officials fear food supplies are dwindling for those ethnic Albanians displaced within the province.
Officials said the Yugoslav government has been notified of the effort, and that the IRC delivered a letter to the Yugoslav mission at the United Nations.
One official involved in the effort said the organizers hope the Yugoslav government will respect the humanitarian nature of the mission.
However, Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Wald told reporters that he did not think the food drops were a good idea.
"The reason I say that is that I have zero trust for what (Yugoslav President Slobodan) Milosevic or his army might try to do," Wald said at a Pentagon briefing. "So I think they're putting themselves, from an operational perspective, at great risk in doing this."
The IRC is using chartered planes from the former Russian republic of Moldovia.
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