World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Somalia: Aid Suspended As Fighting Intensifies

Somalia: UN Food Aid Agency Suspends Air Delivery As Fighting Intensifies

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has suspended much of its delivery of aid by air in Somalia due to increased fighting, including its first airdrops in eight years, and withdrawn its last international staff from a country where it has been struggling to feed up to half a million people hit by floods.

The intensified conflict between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) is also disrupting the dispatch of WFP food by road within Somalia, delaying distribution, and the agency today urged all parties to allow humanitarian workers and aid to move freely and safely to help the most vulnerable.

“WFP hopes to resume all its air operations using airdrops and helicopters and its humanitarian passenger and cargo services in Somalia as soon as possible and is in contact with authorities on the ground in an attempt to achieve this,” it added.

The airdrops on Sunday and Monday by an Antonov-12, flying out of Mombasa in neighbouring Kenya, were the first by WFP in Somalia since 1998 when floods submerged much of the region, and had delivered 28 metric tons before the agency suspended them yesterday due to a TFG ban on using Somali air space.

It also temporarily relocated two MI-8 helicopters and 25 humanitarian workers, including its last eight international staffers, from the Somalia port of Kismayo to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, at the request of Kismayo authorities because of expected unrest.

There are still more than 100 national staff operating from 15 offices across the country, working to distribute food. “The quantity of food affected by the suspension of airdrops and helicopter operations is small in tonnage terms in comparison to the total amount of food delivered in Somalia by WFP, but it is very significant for those people we are trying to reach because they were cut off from access by land,” the agency said.

WFP also suspended its passenger and cargo flights from Kenya into Somalia but hopes to resume them from Nairobi to northern Somalia and within northern Somalia tomorrow.

Since the beginning of November 8,000 tons of WFP food, transported by water, land and air have been distributed to 383,000 people in flood-affected areas of south and central Somalia, which earlier this year was hit by the worst drought in 10 years.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday telephoned Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zenawi, whose forces are helping the TFG, to try and halt the violence. Mr. Annan’s Special Representative for Somalia, François Lonsény Fall urged the Security Council to call on all sides to immediately stop fighting, warning of possible regional consequences if the conflict escalates. The Council has scheduled consultations on the matter today.

Today, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour expressed deep concern for civilian victims. In response to reports of aerial bombardments by Ethiopian forces, she insisted that the laws of war must be respected at all times, granting safe passage to civilians fleeing the conflict and access for humanitarian organizations. “It is unacceptable that the people of Somalia are again facing an upsurge in violence, displacement and human rights violations,” she said.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


University of Auckland: Low-Lying Pacific Island Has More Land Above Sea Level Than In 1943

An inhabited island in the low-lying Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands, which are thought to be at risk of being inundated by rising sea levels, has actually increased in size since 1943, scientists say. And the increase in area above sea level is likely ... More>>

APEC : Leaders Issue Kuala Lumpur Declaration

The leaders of the 21 APEC member economies issued the Kuala Lumpur Declaration following the first-ever virtual 27th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. Convening for the first time since the ... More>>

UN: Appeals For $35 Billion To Help World’s ‘Most Vulnerable And Fragile’ In 2021

UNOCHA/HFO A family flees the violence in Idlib, Syria. (file) A record 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection next year, a near- 40 per cent increase on 2020 which is “almost entirely from COVID-19”, the UN’s emergency ... More>>

OHCHR: UN Committee Issues Recommendations To Combat Racial Profiling

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today published its guidance to combat racial profiling, emphasizing, among other issues, the serious risk of algorithmic bias when artificial intelligence (AI) is used in law enforcement. The ... More>>