Official: UN loading planes for aid airlift to Mogadishu
The World Food Programme is expecting to send its first airlift of urgently needed humanitarian aid to drought-stricken Somalia within the coming hours, an official told the German Press Agency dpa on Wednesday.
"They have loaded the cargo and it is due to be loaded onto the aircraft in next hour, and taking off very soon," said David Orr, with WFP in Nairobi.
"All is looking very good," he added, saying take-off would happen within a two or three hours, barring any mechanical problems.
The UN estimates tens of thousands of people have died as a result of the drought and famine plaguing the Horn of Africa region.
While the airlift was announced Monday and some had hoped the plane would land in the war-torn Somali capital already on Tuesday, bureaucracy at the Kenyan customs office was said to have delayed departure. UN officials say the matter has been cleared up.
Some 14 tonnes of ready-to-use supplementary food for malnourished children will be sent in by plane. The food is high in protein and calories, as well as essential vitamins and nutrients. The quantity is enough to support up to 10,000 children for one month.
Additional aid will be sent in the coming days, UN officials say.
Orr confirmed that the UN still lacks full access to areas under the control of the Islamist al-Shabaab militia, and most of the aid being sent to Mogadishu will help internally displaced people who have fled areas under militant group's grip.