Somalia: politics still holding up vital food aid

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Somalia: politics still holding up vital food aid

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Getting food into Mogadishu and getting it to the people who desperately need it is proving extremely complicated. A customs row has held up the first plane of an emergency UN airlift in Nairobi.

The World Food Programme says no food was shipped into the Somali capital between April and July 4. Not knowing for how long its stocks would last, it had to stretch what food it did have. It had to ration the rations.

And, when food does get to Mogadishu, it may even stay there for some time. Al Shabab, the militant group that controls the area, refuses to allow the WFP to operate in the region, claiming it is a “spy agency.”

The drought in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia is affecting an estimated 12 million people. That is almost twice the population of Greater London.

Some aid groups say the drought is the worst for 60 years. It is thought 3.7 million people are at risk of starvation in the worst-hit area of Somalia alone.

Some say that unless the political implications of food aid distribution are tackled, droughts like this will be difficult to prevent and to manage.

The WFP is feeding 1.5 million people in Somalia, including more than 300,000 people in Mogadishu in July alone. It is doing so in dangerous conditions: 14 members of staff have been killed in Somalia in the last two years.