UN begins food aid airlift to rebel-held Somalia

By REUTERS
July 18, 2011 19:48

 
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NAIROBI - The United Nations said on Monday it had started airlifting food aid to rebel-held parts of drought-hit Somalia and that Islamist insurgents had abided by a pledge to allow relief workers free access.

Some analysts in the Horn of Africa region say the insurgents are allowing aid in for fear of a public backlash if they do not. Others say the rebels want to receive bribes.

The UN has described the drought as an emergency, one level short of a famine. Some 10 million people are affected in the region, dubbed the "triangle of death" by local media, that straddles Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

The UN children's agency, UNICEF, began airlifting food and medicine into the city of Baidoa at the weekend using an airstrip that al Shabaab rebels had previously ordered off limits.

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