UN’s 1st aid airlifts to rebel-held Somalia region

Five metric tonnes of food and medicines were airlifted to malnourished children of Baidoa.

Nairobi: The United Nations has made
its first aid delivery to a rebel-held Somalia region after
the insurgents lifted a ban on the operations of foreign aid
agencies, a spokeswoman said on Sunday.

The UN children agency airlifted five metric tonnes
of food and medicines for malnourished children to Baidoa, a
town in central Somalia under the control of the Al
Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels.

"It was successful and it was a good step towards
airlifting supplies into Somalia. It is the first in two
years," said Iman Morooka, the UNICEF spokeswoman for Somalia.

Morooka said the Shebab "have given approval and
gave unhindered access, and it was smooth operation".

The delivery was made on Wednesday and UNICEF said
it was ready to take more supplies to southern and central
regions of Somalia controlled by the hardline rebels.

The Shebab on July 6 appealed for help for
thousands of people devastated by a severe drought that has
hit the Horn of Africa region, saying they would allow aid
through to their fiefdoms.

Two years ago, the Shebab expelled foreign aid
groups, accusing them of being Western spies and Christian
crusaders, and imposed draconian rules on the operations of
relief groups.

Last week, the World Food Programme, which pulled
out from southern Somalia in early 2010, said it was
considering resuming operations in the area.

PTI

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