AN Indian restaurant owner travelled thousands of miles to deliver a curry takeaway to the African jungle – only to be told it had not been ordered.
Akki Ahmed, who runs the Ashoka Indian Restaurant, in Seaham, returned “disappointed” from his mercy mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
United Nations officials said they had not asked for the food and could not guarantee its safe delivery to peacekeeping forces.
“I was very disappointed that I was not able to complete the dish for them,” he said. “I would have loved to have seen this through.”
After being warned about crime in Kinshasa, Mr Ahmed decided to take the next available flight home.
Mr Ahmed had been asked by businessman Mustafa Azim to undertake the unusual food run for Bangladeshi Armed Forces, serving with the UN peacekeeping teams.
Mr Azim, who repairs old aircraft, had been asked by his cousin, a squadron leader in its air force, to bring fish curries to the country.
Mr Ahmed made up 100 meals, with side dishes, and was picked up by Mr Azim at the Peterlee Parachute Centre and flown to Biggin Hill Airport. They then flew more than 5,500 miles from Heathrow, via Istanbul, to the capital Kinshasa, and had planned to travel on to the city of Bunia.
Mr Ahmed said: “When we got to Kinshasa Airport, we got a phone message saying ‘UN restrictions. Please do not come to Bunia. We’re sorry’. United Nations officials said they did not order the curries and could not take responsibility for our safety or provide us with protection. It is very rough out there.”
Mr Ahmed said the food, packed in specialist aluminium containers, was left in Kinshasa and, as far as he knew, it had been delivered.