Life and death on the UN's doorstep

STAFF of Save the Children Fund found this baby (left) in a cardboard box on the doorstep of one of their food kitchens in Mogadishu. Next to him lay his dead mother, just one more victim of starvation that is threatening more than two million Somalis.

As the problem continues of getting food to the starving, Mary Robinson, the Irish President, was in Mogadishu last night planning to meet General Mohamed Farah Aideed and Mohamed Ali Mahdi, two of the most powerful Somali warlords, whose men are being blamed for seizing emergency food aid shipments.

Five hundred United Nations troops from Pakistan should be deployed in Mogadishu this week to protect food shipments from bandits and clan militias, and 750 Canadian troops are being sent to the north-eastern Somali port of Bossasso after a breakthrough agreement with the clan in control of the region, the Somali Salvation Democratic Front.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said heavy fighting had forced delay of a food mission into Somalia from Kenya. Five foreign UN aid workers were evacuated from the southern port of Kismayo this week after being held by armed Somali guards for nearly two days because of disputes over money.

The UN is organising an emergency humanitarian conference in Geneva on 12 and 13 October to find ways of distributing food. The aim is to provide 200,000 tons by the end of the year.

(Photograph omitted)