08/08/07 (B407) REUTERS AVEC IRIN – La distribution de nourriture du programme des Nations Unies a commendé dans l’Ouest de Mogadiscio et est accompagné d’un programme d’assistance médicale de MSF. – SOMALIA: Food distribution under way west of Mogadishu (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has started distributing food to civilians, who fled violence in Mogadishu and are living in the area around Afgoye town, about 390km west of the Somali capital, a spokesperson said.

The food distribution, which began on 6 August, follows a health assessment by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) among the internally displaced people (IDPs), which indicated a global malnutrition rate of 21.5 percent among children under the age of five and a severe acute malnutrition rate of 3 percent – a nutritional emergency, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Monica Rull, the doctor who carried out the health survey, said 6 percent of families in the 393 households assessed reported having had nothing to eat the day before. More than 60 percent of families had no source of income while 93 percent of IDPs interviewed had either already run out of food or had just a little left.

According to WFP spokesperson, Peter Smerdon, about 605 tonnes of food will be distributed over the next week to an estimated 28,400 IDPs around Afgoye. The agency conducted two rounds of food distribution to 32,000 IDPs in the Afgoye area in April and May.

The IDPs had fled violence in Mogadishu, where fighting pitting Ethiopian-backed government troops against insurgents continues to force residents to leave the city.

The fighting halted food distribution by WFP to IDPs in the capital and their host communities on 25 June after a shooting incident in an area where people had gathered to wait for rations.

“WFP urges authorities in Mogadishu to provide adequate security so that food distribution to those in need can resume as soon as possible,” said Smerdon.

WFP, he added, had during the past week also completed delivery of 2,970 tonnes of food aid to 113,000 people in the southern part of Gedo region.

A spokesman for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, Abdi Haji Gobdon, told IRIN that authorities were ready to work with any aid agency that wanted to help the residents of Mogadishu.

He claimed the city was now calm, despite what he described as sporadic shooting incidents. Some residents, he added, were voluntarily surrendering weapons to police and soldiers in an ongoing campaign to disarm civilians.

On 2 August, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Eric Laroche, urged humanitarian agencies to take advantage of security provided by African Union troops to improve the delivery of aid to those displaced from Mogadishu.