Ramadan fighting threatens Somali famine relief

August 3, 2011 16:43


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MOGADISHU - Somali refugees caught between famine and civil war appealed to international aid organizations to ramp up the distribution of emergency relief supplies that has been jeopardized by heavy fighting in the capital Mogadishu.

Hundreds of drought-hit Somalis are streaming into squalid camps in and around the rubble-strewn city every day, defying the orders of Islamist militants who control much of the worst-hit areas to stay put, only to walk into a war zone.

The start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan two days ago coincided with a jump in suicide attack threats made by the al-Qaida-affiliated al Shabaab rebel movement, which has waged a four-year insurgency against a government it sees as a puppet of the West.

UN staff in Mogadishu said they had for the moment been restricted from moving outside the heavily guarded airport perimeter and so have had to rely on local staff to deliver urgently needed food and shelter.

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