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World Food Program Plans To Begin Airlifts To Somalia This Week

The World Food Program (WFP) has said it plans to begin food airlifts by Thursday “to parts of drought-ravaged Somalia that militants banned it from more than two years ago,” the Associated Press reports. The agency plans to send five tons of high-energy bars by air with more food to follow by land, the news agency notes (Straziuso, 7/25).

Inter Press Service reports “it is uncertain how much of the aid will get to the people and how much will end up in the hands of the terrorist group al-Shabab, pirates or other gunmen” (Foynes, 7/25). “Part of the problem, analysts say, is that much of the funding for WFP, and some other aid agencies, comes from the United States, opening them to charges of skewed objectives,” Reuters writes (Malone, 7/26). Last week, “Donald Steinberg, deputy administrator of USAID, said … that America needed assurances from the U.N. that al-Shabab would not restrict delivery of U.S.-funded aid in rebel areas before it would allow its aid to be delivered,” the Guardian reports (Ford, 7/22).

On Monday at an emergency meeting on the drought, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said emergency aid “must be accompanied by longer-term efforts to boost food security in the region” and called for “an agricultural transformation that improves the livelihoods of rural communities in the region,” according to the U.N. News Centre (7/25).