(AFP) – Jul 17, 2011
NAIROBI — The United Nations has made its first aid delivery to a rebel-held Somalia region after the insurgents lifted a ban on the operations of foreign aid agencies, a spokeswoman told AFP on Sunday.
The UN children agency airlifted five metric tonnes of food and medicines for malnourished children to Baidoa, a town in central Somalia under the control of the Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels.
"It was successful and it was a good step towards airlifting supplies into Somalia. It is the first in two years," said Iman Morooka, the UNICEF spokeswoman for Somalia.
Morooka said the Shebab "have given approval and gave unhindered access, and it was smooth operation".
The delivery was made on Wednesday and UNICEF said it was ready to take more supplies to southern and central regions of Somalia controlled by the hardline rebels.
The Shebab on July 6 appealed for help for thousands of people devastated by a severe drought that has hit the Horn of Africa region, saying they would allow aid through to their fiefdoms.
Two years ago, the Shebab expelled foreign aid groups, accusing them of being Western spies and Christian crusaders, and imposed draconian rules on the operations of relief groups.
Last week, the World Food Programme, which pulled out from southern Somalia in early 2010, said it was considering resuming operations in the area.
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