shipment from the Somali capital has reached the south-central
town of Baidoa for the first time since the main highway linking
the two cities was cut off by violence last June, a local
official said Monday.
trucks carrying food items, the first convoy to use the road,
arrived in Baidoa on Sunday afternoon through the main highway,"
Bay regional governor Mohamed Aden Qalinle told AFP by telephone
(155-mile) highway was cut after the Rahanwein Resistance
Army (RRA) faction ended four years of occupation by armed
militia loyal to south Mogadishu warlord Hussein Mohamed Aidid.
CARE official told AFP that it took only a few hours to transport
the relief food from Mogadishu to Baidoa, a trip that a week
by alternate routes.
said the food, donated by the UN World Food Programme (WFP)
and CARE, was escorted from Mogadishu by local gunmen and
handed over to other waiting RRA militia at the town Wanlaweyn
town, situated at the mid-point between Mogadishu and Baidoa.
opening of the road had not yet been agreed, but only aid
agencies were given temporary permission for humanitarian
reasons," Qalinle said.
will be distributed mainly under a food-for-work scheme, but
some badly affected people in the Bay and Bakol areas will
receive outright food donations.
than 500,000 people in the Bay, Bakol and Gedo regions of
southern Somalia face an acute food shortage. In the nearby
region of Lower Shabelle, people in the drought-stricken,
war-ravaged town of Kurtunwarey have also been receiving food
aid from the British agency ACCORD since relative peace returned
to the town two months ago.
had been the scene of bloody hostilities between the RRA and
Islamic court militia.