US launches emergency food airlift for Somalia

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The Independent Online
WASHINGTON (Reuter) - The United States will begin an emergency airlift of food to Somalia 'as soon as possible', the White House announced last night. It also proposed that the United Nations convene a donors conference on the crisis in Somalia. The leading Somali factions would be also asked to take part in the conference.

'The Defense Department will begin as soon as possible emergency airlift operations to deliver food,' the White House spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater, said. He added that the United States was 'asking the Kenyan government to join us in supporting airlifts to northern Kenya for Somali refugees and drought-stricken Kenyans'. President George Bush directed that an additional 145,000 tons of food be made available for Somalia and 'calls upon other nations to join us in this urgent and important effort'. The new aid would be in addition to dollars 77m ( pounds 39m) in food already pledged by the United States. About 4.5 million Somalis risk death by starvation and about one sixth of the 7 million population are refugees.