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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 18:48 GMT 19:48 UK
Epic food convoy crosses Sahara
WFP trucks arrive in Bahai, Chad with food aid
The aid will feed 30,000 people for a month
The first convoy of food for Sudanese refugees has arrived in Chad from Libya, crossing the Sahara Desert, says the World Food Programme (WFP).

The epic 2,800km (1,740 miles) journey took more than three weeks, leaving the Libyan port of Bengazi on 16 August.

The new aid corridor, opened up by Libya in July, will allow year-round access to refugee camps.

Some 200,000 refugees from Sudan's troubled Darfur region have sought safety in neighbouring Chad.

Feasible route

Loaded with 440 metric tons of wheat flour, the 20 trucks arrived in the town on Bahai late on Wednesday from where food was immediately despatched to nearby Oure Cassoni camp.

"With this trip we have shown that the Libyan corridor is a feasible route. It saves both distance and time," said convoy leader Jacobus Saenen.

Previously the WFP transported food from Cameroon, but during the rainy season, many roads become impassable.

"It also has a big advantage during the rainy season because it is dry," said Mr Saenen.

Despite frequently getting stuck in the sand and with temperatures of 45C, the trucks travelled about 135km a day mainly during the mornings and late into the night.

The food convoy ended its journey in the administrative settlement of Iriba, from where the rest of the food, donated by Switzerland, will be distributed.

The new route will allow WFP to bring in hundreds of extra tons of food a month.

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