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UN Food Agency Resumes Aid Flights To Somalia

UN Food Agency Resumes Aid Flights To Somalia

Following a temporary suspension caused by a recent flare up of violence in Somalia, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced a resumption of air aid deliveries to the country, where it is struggling to feed half a million people affected by floods.

The UN Common Air Services (UNCAS) which is managed by WFP, resumed humanitarian flights into Somalia today with a plane leaving Nairobi for Hargeisa in northern Somalia carrying humanitarian workers and cargo.

Another flight is planned for Saturday, with an aircraft scheduled to go from Nairobi to the southern Somali town of Wajid.

These flights follow the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) giving permission for humanitarian flights to resume after declaring Somalia's land, air and sea borders closed on 25 December, WFP said in a news release. Despite the fighting between the TFG and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) in Somalia -- where Ethiopia has also admitted sending troops -- the agency distributed an estimated 2,000 metric tons of food to 93,000 people affected by floods in Lower Shabelle and Middle and Lower Juba regions, largely thanks to improved access by land.

A WFP-chartered ship loaded with 4,500 metric tons of WFP food docked in Mogadishu port on 26 December and started discharging the same day.

On 27 December, WFP announced the suspension of its helicopter operation delivering humanitarian aid from the Somali port of Kismayo and both its air drop operation and passenger flights from Kenya into Somalia.

"WFP hopes to resume all its air operations using airdrops and helicopters in Somalia as soon as possible and is in contact with authorities on the ground in an attempt to achieve this," according to the news release.

More than 100 national staff in Somalia operating from 15 offices across the country are continuing to distribute food to victims of the floods and other vulnerable people.

ends

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