UN will airlift aid to banned areas

THE United Nations will this week airlift emergency rations to parts of drought-ravaged Somalia from which it has been banned by Islamic militants for more than two years.

Its desperate bid to help at least 175,000 of the 2.2 million Somalis not yet reached by the aid effort involves flying supplies along what one official called "the roads of death".

Tens of thousands of Somalis have trekked to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia in search of food.

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World Food Programme workers were banned from the region by the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab militants. Fourteen WFP employees have been killed in Somali since 2008. WFP staff now face land mines, which have severed a key road to the town of Dolo, and will have to repair a landing strip as well as rehire local help.

The new feeding efforts in the four districts of southern Somalia near the border with Kenya and Ethiopia could begin by Thursday, slowing the flow of tens of thousands of people who have fled their homes in search of aid.