UN food agency starts food distribution in battle-scarred Somali capital

UN food agency starts food distribution in battle-scarred Somali capital

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced that it has distributed aid to 16,000 people in the most ravaged districts of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, which has suffered the worst fighting seen there in 16 years.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced that it has distributed aid to 16,000 people in the most ravaged districts of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, which has suffered the worst fighting seen there in 16 years.

By the end of this week, the agency expects to have distributed food to a total of 114,000 people who fled the city plus vulnerable people unable to escape the fighting. Urgent WFP food distributions continue to be expanded given the prevailing security situation in and around the capital, where relative calm recently returned following two weeks of fierce clashes between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), backed by Ethiopian forces, and anti-TFG factions.

Yesterday, a Somali non-governmental organization (NGO) started distributing WFP maize, nutritious corn-soya blend and vegetable oil to 7,000 people at three sites in Mogadishu, and 9,000 others are expected to be reached today at five more sites.

The agency also plans today to start distributing five tons of food to hospitals in Mogadishu for 1,500 people injured in the fighting.

“These people are exhausted,” said WFP Somalia Country Director Peter Goossens in Nairobi. “Most of them are women and they were either forced to flee their homes with their children during the recent fighting or they stayed in the city throughout the worst bombardments. These families require food and other assistance after their terrible ordeal.”

The agency began its work in the most ravaged areas in north Mogadishu, where the

fighting was concentrated. “But we are also reaching many of those who are still outside Mogadishu and are too frightened to return, but are struggling in terrible conditions under trees in the rain,” said Mr. Goossens.

WFP has already distributed food to 42,000 people displaced southwards from Mogadishu to the port of Merka and 9,000 displaced in Qoryoley district to the southwest of the capital. More aid will be delivered to 13,500 people in Brava town starting on Wednesday. In late April, WFP food was distributed to 32,000 displaced west of the capital shortly before heavy fighting ended in Mogadishu on 27 April.

The agency is seeking an extra $10 million in donations for its operation due to the fighting in Mogadishu and displacement of civilians. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that some 395,000 people fled the city – over a third of the capital's population – since 1 February. But following the end of heavy fighting, some are now trickling back.