US official warns of threat to Somali children

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The Independent Online
WASHINGTON - A senior United States official, just back from Mogadishu, said on Monday that three-fourths of Somalia's children could die of starvation within six months and renewed his call for UN guards to protect relief supplies, Reuter reports.

James Kunder, Director of the US Office of Disaster Assistance, said that while more food is needed, 'basic security is the fundamental issue in Somalia' and United Nations guards should be dispatched there regardless of whether the leaders of the civil strife agree.

Mr Kunder has been speaking out strongly and repeatedly since completing a two-week fact-finding tour of Somalia, which he has called 'the world's worst humanitarian crisis'. He praised aid workers as doing a heroic job providing health care 'in the midst of American Civil War-like conditions'. He added: 'I strongly endorse the UN plan for the deployment of armed security personnel to Somalia to provide security for relief efforts.'