A charity backed by some of Hollywood's biggest actors has contributed to keeping helicopters flying aid to Darfur in the air.

Not On Our Watch, founded by George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, donated part of the $6.24 million (£3.13 million) provided to the World Food Programme's (WFP) air service.

Echo (European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office), the Irish government and the UN Common Humanitarian Fund also contributed towards the donation.

The United Nations WFP-Humanitarian Air Service (WFP-HAS) says the funding is exactly enough to keep its fleet of 24 aid helicopters and aeroplanes in the air for one month, up until April 30th.

But the WFP representative in Sudan, Kenro Oshidari, said the air service needed further donations to avoid being grounded for the reminder of the year.

"We are hoping that more funds will come in, because there is a big gap between the $6 million we have now and the $77 million (£38.68 million) that we need this year," he explained.

But the representative continued: "Thanks to the European Commission, Ireland and other donors, humanitarian work in Darfur and other parts of Sudan will not be interrupted – for the time being."

WFP-HAS is used by 8,000 relief workers every month, with many roads in Darfur becoming "no go" areas for aid agencies.

Last week the UN said three WFP truck drivers had been murdered in Sudan recently.

28/03/2008 17:08:44