Emergency airdrop operations by the World Food Program have been severely affected by the fighting in Somalia. WFP spokesperson Peter Smerdon, in Nairobi, spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the UN agency’s Somalia operations.
“The situation at the moment is that unfortunately the World Food Program has been forced to temporarily relocate two MI-8 helicopters, which were delivering aid to flood affected areas, and…humanitarian workers from the port of Kismayo in Somalia to Nairobi. This includes nine WFP staff, 11 crewmembers, five air operations staff and two UN security officers,” says Smerdon.
He calls it a “blow” to WFP flood relief operations. He says that it “follows a request from the authorities on the ground in Kismayo because of expected instability in the area. And in addition, the air operation in general had become difficult because we’ve been delivering both buy helicopter and by fixed wing aircraft airdropping into Somalia. It’s become difficult because of an air space ban into Somalia, which has been declared by the transitional federal government.”
Thousands of people are expected to be affected by the temporary loss of the air operations. However, they’re not expected to resume until the security situation stabilizes.