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Posts Tagged ‘World Food Programme’

U.N. flies food into famine-hit Somali capital

Posted by Admin on July 28, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/u-n-flies-food-famine-hit-somali-capital-175012420.html

By Abdi Sheikh | Reuters – 29 mins ago

MOGADISHU (Reuters) – The United Nations airlifted emergency food for starving children into the Somali capital Mogadishu on Wednesday as aid groups warned of a growing influx of hungry families from the famine-hit south of the country.

Some 3.7 million Somalis — almost half of the population — are going hungry with drought hitting some 11.6 million people across what local media have dubbed a “triangle of death” straddling Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

Though the U.N. food agency had already distributed food in the capital, this is its first airlift of food into Somalia since the food crisis began.

“We need to scale up our programs, and especially the nutrition programs, in order to avoid children falling into severe malnutrition,” Stephanie Savariaud, a U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman, told Reuters.

“Then they need to get hospitalized and it’s much more difficult to save them.”

The U.N. plane carried 10 tonnes of so-called therapeutic food — the type used to feed malnourished children under five. The shipment will feed 3,500 children for a month, WFP said.

The agency said it has an additional 70 tonnes ready in Kenya, which it will fly to Somalia over the coming days.

Aid agencies say they cannot reach more than two million Somalis facing starvation in the parts of the country where Islamist militants control much of the worst-hit areas.

WFP officials have said they will try to deliver food to the areas controlled by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels over the next week and that they will consider food drops from aircrafts as a last resort.

There are about 400,000 displaced people in the capital Mogadishu, with about 1,000 new arrivals each day, the U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR) said in a statement on Tuesday. It estimated that 100,000 internally displaced people have arrived in the city over the last two months.

People in makeshift settlements are fighting over food being distributed by local charities, with the weaker ones unable to push through the crowds to get it, UNHCR said.

“Even if people are able to obtain the food and water being distributed, they often lack even the most basic containers to carry it. Often, they must haul food and water in plastic bags,” UNHCR said.

The WFP has set up 16 feeding centers across the capital, providing hot meals to new arrivals using supplies delivered by sea from Kenya and Tanzania.

Boats are continuing to shift food in but they can take months to arrive. They are escorted by the European Naval Force to Somalia to deter pirate attacks.

(Additional reporting and writing by Katy Migiro in Nairobi; Editing by Barry Malone and Elizabeth Fullerton)

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Burqa-clad suicide bomber kills 40 in Pakistan

Posted by Admin on December 26, 2010

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – A burqa-clad suicide bomber attacked a crowd of people waiting for aid in Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least 40 of them, officials said, showing militants’ ability to strike despite army offensives.

The attack in the Bajaur region on the Afghan border came a day after fierce clashes between Pakistani Taliban insurgents and security forces in the neighboring Mohmand region that left 11 soldiers and 24 militants dead.

“I myself have counted 40 bodies but the death toll could rise as several wounded people are in critical condition,” Dosti Rehman, an official at the main government hospital in Bajaur, told Reuters.

Zakir Hussain, the top government official in Bajaur, confirmed the death toll and said 60 tribesmen were wounded. He said the death toll could rise as some of the wounded were in critical condition. Several women and children were among casualties, officials said.

The suicide bomber, who was wearing a head-to-toe burqa but whose gender has not been ascertained, detonated explosives as hundreds of people from the Salarzai tribe were heading toward a food distribution center. The World Food Programme (WFP) set up the center for people forced from their homes by earlier fighting between security forces and al Qaeda-linked militants.

A WFP spokesman said the attack took place where people were being screened at a security checkpoint near their center.

Witnesses said the attacker first threw hand grenades at tribesmen before detonating the bomb.

“First there were two small explosions and people started running for cover. But within seconds there was a major blast and there were dead bodies scattered everywhere,” witness Hussain Ahmed said. “It was very terrifying.”

ANTI-TALIBAN TRIBE

The Salarzais are a major regional anti-Taliban tribe, which has been backing army operations against the militants.

Militants have infested Pakistan’s volatile ethnic Pashtun tribal lands on the Afghan border, and the army has mounted a series of operations to dislodge them.

Salarzai tribesmen have been instrumental in raising lashkars, or tribal militia, to back the government’s operations against the militants.

A Taliban spokesman, Azam Tariq, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it was retaliation for “Salarazais activities against the Taliban.”

Militants have attacked pro-government tribes in the past to punish them for supporting the government.

Hundreds of militants have been killed and many of their strongholds captured but the insurgents have shown they are able to strike back and have killed hundreds of people in a campaign of bomb attacks across the country.

On Friday, about 150 Taliban militants staged simultaneous attacks on five paramilitary checkpoints in the Baizai area of the Mohmand tribal agency, killing 11 soldiers and wounding a dozen, officials said.

At least 24 militants were killed by defending paramilitary forces but government officials said the militant death toll rose to 40 as 16 more insurgents were killed in air raids by the security forces.

A Taliban spokesman on Friday confirmed clashes but disputed the official death toll, saying only two of their fighters were killed.

Officials have claimed several times that militants have been driven out of Bajaur. A senior military official in October said it would take at least six months to clear militants from Bajaur and Mohmand.

(Additional reporting by Izaz Mohmand and Sahibzada Saeed-ur-Rehman; Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Daniel Magnowski)

(For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/places/pakistan.

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