WFP warns Somali aid delivery dangerous

2011-07-20 19:08

Addis Ababa - The UN food agency warned on Wednesday that delivering aid to rebel-held Somali regions where up to 350 000 people face famine will be dangerous.

"Incidents such as looting and attacks are not out of the norm, so we expect any large scale operations in these areas will be very dangerous and very risky," WFP executive director Josette Sheeran told reporters.

The World Food Programme is mulling a return to areas in southern Somalia controlled by al-Qaeda inspired Shabaab insurgents, where the UN said earlier on Wednesday that two areas are now hit by famine.

WFP pulled out of southern Somalia in early 2010 following threats against its staff and increasingly draconian rules imposed on its activities by the Shabaab, who are listed as a terror group by Washington.

Sheeran also said WFP faces a $342m funding shortfall.

"We suspect this will be needed for the core response to get through these next few challenging months," she said.

"We are currently tapping all possible supplies, not only locally and regionally but throughout the world, to scale this up as we see the deepening effects of this drought," Sheeran said.

The Shebab announced earlier this month that they would allow humanitarian organisations to provide aid in the regions they control.

Unicef airlifted the first emergency aid supplies into the rebel-held town of Baidoa last week.

But Johnnie Carson, US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, stressed that the Shabaab’s responsibility in the suffering was clear.

"Al-Shabaab’s activities have clearly made the current situation much worse," Carson told reporters on Tuesday.

"We call on all of those in south-central Somalia who have it within their authority to allow refugee groups and organisations to operate there to do so," he said.