Wednesday, July 27, 2011

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UN to start airlifting food to Somalia

  • Wednesday, July 27, 2011
  • Aruntha Kanagaratnam
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  • Italy: The UN World Food Programme was set on Tuesday to start airlifting food to Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya after an emergency meeting in Rome on the drought-stricken Horn of Africa region.

    An estimated 3.7 million people in Somalia — around a third of the population — are on the brink of starvation and millions more in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda have been struck by the worst drought in the region in 60 years.

    WFP chief Josette Sheeran said her organisation would begin food airlifts to the Somali capital Mogadishu, as well as aid flights to Dolo in Ethiopia on the border with Somalia and to Wajir in northern Kenya, which has been badly hit by drought.

    The plight of children in Somalia is “the worst I have ever seen,” she said, after visiting Mogadishu and the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya over the weekend.

    “What we saw is children who are arriving so weak that many of them are in stage four malnutrition and have little chance — less than 40 percent chance — of making it,” Sheeran said.

    “The catastrophic situation demands massive and urgent international aid,” Jacques Diouf, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told participants at Monday’s Rome meeting.

    “It is imperative to stop the famine,” declared by the UN this month in two insurgent-held areas of southern Somalia, Diouf said

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