Aid flight starts Somalia relief operation

An aircraft carrying 10 tons of nutritional supplements for malnourished children has landed in Somalia, a UN official said yesterday. The airlift is part of a crisis intervention as famine threatens to spread across the country.

David Orr, of the World Food Programme, said it was the first airlift of food aid since the UN declared a famine in parts of Somalia last week. The operation – bringing supplies to treat 3,500 malnourished children for a month – was the first of several planned for coming weeks.

Somalia has been embroiled in conflict for two decades, since the last leader was overthrown by warlords who then turned on each other. Islamist militant groups have spent the last few years battling the weak UN-backed government in an attempt to overthrow it. Al-Shabab – Somalia's most dangerous militant group – said last week that it would not allow the aid groups to operate in its territories, exacerbating the drought crisis.

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