WFP: Mogadishu fighting not hampering food distribution
GENEVA - Fighting between pro-government forces and insurgents has not yet hampered food relief distribution in war-torn Mogadishu, where a second aid plane landed Friday, the World Food Programme said.
"The second airlift of specialised nutritional food for malnourished children has arrived this morning in Mogadishu," the UN food agency's spokeswoman Emilia Casella told reporters.
Nevertheless she admitted that "definitely the fighting in Mogadishu is a concern."
"But I talked to my colleagues this morning and they said it is not affecting our food distribution," Casella said, adding however that the situation was volatile.
Somali government forces and African Union troops have been battling radical Islamic insurgents in Mogadishu in a bid to secure aid routes for drought victims, using heavy machine-guns, artillery and tanks.
The spokeswoman explained that so far two flights have delivered a total of 28 tonnes of ready to use food, "and this will be distributed in health centres in 12 districts of the city, for highly malnourished and moderately malnourished children."
Somalia is the worst affected country by a prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa, with millions in danger of starvation.
Nearly half of Somalia's estimated 10 million people are in need of relief assistance, owing to the effects of the relentless violence and the drought that prompted the UN to declare famine for the first time this century.
The WFP said it "continues to provide food to around 1.5 million people in Central Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland, as well as some 300,000 in Mogadishu."
The UN raised its Horn of Africa humanitarian appeal Friday to $2.48 billion for 12.4 million drought-hit people, warning that famine could spread across the region if donors fail to come to their aid.