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French Ship to Deliver Food to Horn of Africa

Somali children from southern Somalia, receive cooked food in Mogadishu, Somalia, Monday, Aug 15, 2011

A ship loaded with nearly 400 tons of food for drought and famine victims in the Horn of Africa is set to depart from France on Thursday.

The U.N. World Food Program says the French ship is carrying enough flour, sugar, rice and oil to feed more than 22,000 people for one month.

The food was donated by a conglomeration of French businesses and organizations, and will be used for the WFP's operations in Somalia. Officials say the supplies should arrive in around 12 days.

On Tuesday, the U.N. said fewer people in Somalia are fleeing their homes. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says 5,000 people have moved into Mogadishu this month, down from 28,000 in July.

The agency's weekly report said the number of Somalis fleeing to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia has also dropped.

Experts have warned that food production in southern Somalia remains at a historic low, and that famine conditions across the region are likely to continue and spread.

Somalia and neighboring countries are experiencing their worst drought in 60 years. The U.N. says more than 12 million people are in need of food aid.

The U.N. has already declared a famine in five regions of southern Somalia.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have fled their homes in recent months in search of food and water. The situation has led to severe overcrowding at refugee camps and the sight of Somalis dying while trying to walk to a place of refuge.

Countries and regional bodies around the world have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, though the U.N. says still more is needed.