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Calm in Mogadishu Allows World Food Program to Distribute Aid

With Mogadishu experiencing several days of calm, humanitarian agencies have been able to reach some of the many people who’ve been displaced in Somalia.

Peter Smerdon is a spokesman for the World Food Program, the WFP. From Nairobi, he told VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about improved conditions in Somalia.

“Yes, things have got a little bit better, but they need to get a lot better for a lot more people. Basically, there are reports that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people are starting to return to Mogadishu. But when you consider there are 350,000 – 360,000 people out of the city since February – it’s going to take some time for them to go back. And we’re not sure all of them will go back.

“The good news for WFP is that on Saturday, we were able to fly a passenger aircraft from the UN Common Humanitarian Air Service, which the WFP manages, to K50, which is an airstrip 50 kilometers south of Mogadishu. This was the first time we were able to use K50 since December, when there was also fighting. The Transitional Federal Government has said that we can resume flights to all airstrips into Somalia to reach these people displaced by the fighting in Mogadishu,” he says.

The WFP is still not able to use Mogadishu International Airport because of security concerns. The agency is using K50 to fly in personnel to help distribute food aid, which is already stored in Mogadishu.

“On Thursday and Friday of last week, we sent 320 tons of food from Mogadishu and were able to distribute it without any incidents to 32,000 people or more at…six sites west of Mogadishu. And we hope to do more distributions to the displaced in the coming days and weeks,” he says.