WFP halts food shipments to Somalia

Published on 22 January 2009

The World Food Programme has halted its food shipments to Somalia in a high-stakes attempt to press local warlords to rein in violence that has killed two of its employees this month. Peter Goossens, Somalia country director of the United Nations agency, said the WFP would distribute the food left in its Somali warehouses but he warned that it would run out by early March if it was not replenished by fresh shipments. He said the WFP would only reopen its “pipeline” – a reference to the sea and land routes through which it ships food from the Kenyan port of Mombassa – when it had received security guarantees from local administrations, warlords and armed militias that control the areas where it operates. It is a high-risk move for the agency because the difficulty of pacifying highly fragmented armed groups is one reason why Somalia has become a lawless and destitute failed state since its central government collapsed in 1991.

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