U.N. Begins Food Airlifts To Somali Capital

For the first time since the food crisis in the Horn of Africa began, a U.N. plane carrying 10 tons of food aid for children landed in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Wednesday, “as aid groups warned of a growing influx of hungry families from the famine-hit south of the country,” Reuters reports (Sheikh, 7/27).

Refugees in the capital told the Associated Press that members of the militant al-Shabab group are trying to stop men from fleeing drought-stricken areas, and in some cases killing them, according to the news agency.

Efforts by an African Union peacekeeping force to deliver water and medical care to people in camps in the capital “are helping to win over Somalis and counter the al-Shabab message, although there are no aid groups working inside the camp,” the news agency writes (Straziuso/Guled/Odula, 7/27).

Former USAID administrator Andrew Natsios in an interview with VOA News said while drought, crop failure and rising food prices have played a role in the crisis, “a lack of a functioning political system has likely made a bad situation even worse,” according to the news service (Mvunganyi, 7/27).

The State Department on Wednesday released a fact sheet on the humanitarian crisis in the region, outlining its response and funding to date (7/27).