Somali gov't allows renewed UN humanitarian flights

Somalia's transitional government gave a green light Thursday to the immediate resumption of UN humanitarian flights. Fighting earlier in the week between Ethiopian forces backing Somalia's weak government and the powerful Islamic militia that had controlled much of the country forced the UN to evacuate its international staff and halt assistance to 2 million people in the south and central regions affected by the conflict and recent floods. "Their airspace has been declared open, which means that we and others can fly in," said Stephanie Bunker, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, known as OCHA. "The UN will first do a security assessment of the situation, which is standard procedure," she said. "Once we've done that - and we don't yet know when that will be - we will resume our flights if it's safe enough to do so."