LONDON / WASHINGTON: Britain will send surveillance jets to help get aid to refugees trapped on an Iraqi mountain after a plane was forced to abort a supply drop for fear the packages could hit crowds below, the government said Monday.
Tornado jets will be positioned in the region to help ensure humanitarian relief can be safely dropped, Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said after Britain’s emergency response committee met.
“We have decided to pre-position a small number of Tornados in the region so that they could, if required, use their excellent surveillance capability to gather better situational awareness to help with humanitarian effort,” the statement said.
ISIS militants have driven thousands of people of the Yezidi religious sect into the arid Sinjar mountain range in the heat of mid-summer.
Earlier Monday a spokeswoman for said an overnight attempt to deliver aid to the refugees had to be abandoned at the last moment.
“So many people were coming toward the plane that unfortunately we weren’t able to carry out that aid drop because we were concerned that we could have put lives at risk,” the spokeswoman said.
Britain has so far delivered one aid drop to the mountain comprising water, filtration kits and solar-powered lanterns that double as mobile phone chargers.
Britain has offered surveillance and refueling support for U.S. aid flights, but insists it will not be joining Washington in conducting airstrikes against ISIS militants.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is deploying a disaster response team to Iraq to help distribute humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of people displaced from violence in northern Iraq.
U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah said the team would help speed up food, water and other life-saving supplies to Iraqis.