The first three planes took off from Incirlik air base in Turkey on Wednesday to ferry aid to Pakistan. The Turkish government joined forces with the UN refugee agency and NATO in order to facilitate the airlift of hundreds of tons of supplies, including nearly 10,000 desperately needed tents, from Incirlik air base in southern Turkey to the earthquake zone in northern Pakistan, reported Reuters news agency on Tuesday.
Although UNHCR worked closely with non-combatant NATO forces in Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia during the Kosovo crisis, this is the first time the UN refugee agency and NATO have mounted a joint airlift of this size, reported Reuters.
Speaking at a press briefing in Geneva, UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said, "In all, we have about 860 tonnes of supplies in our warehouse in Iskenderun, Turkey, that we're going to rush to Pakistan with the generous help of these two partners," adding that, "This part of the airlift will deliver nearly 10,000 family tents – enough for 100,000 people – 103,675 blankets and 2,000 stoves from our stocks in Turkey."
Dozens of planes are expected are expected to be sent from the NATO alliance, so far a total of 11 C-130 planes have been offered by the UK, Italy, France, Turkey and Greece. With the turkish government offering 40 trucks to transport the supplies from the UNHCR warehouse to the airbase in Incirlik. Seven trucks arrived in Incirlik on Tuesday carrying stoves and some 45,000 blankets.
The Turkish effort has been at the forefront of this relief effort with the local governor close to where the air base is located going all out to help by assigning some military troops to move aid supplies. "The governor of Adana, where Incirlik is located, is assisting with the provision of military troops and equipment to help shift the supplies," Redmond added.