More than a million hungry Somalis living in southern and central areas hit hard by war and drought will start seeing much needed food distributed by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the agency said Wednesday.
The first round of distributions of beans, oil and rice is expected to reach 72,000 people in the pastoral Gedo region.
The Red Cross is also hoping to deliver seed and fertilizer to 240,000 farmers ahead of the planting season and ready to harvest by the start of 2012.
"The people are waiting for the rain to come in one or two weeks," said Yves van Loo, the Geneva-based agency's spokesman in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
The distributions will take place deep in territory controlled by Al-Shabaab, an Islamist group with ties to al Qaeda that has waged war in order to establish a stricter form of Sharia, or Islamic law. The United States designates Al-Shabaab as foreign terrorist organization.
Van Loo said the aid is going out after negotiations with the militants.
"Not everybody can talk to them," he said. "Our neutrality has been respected."FULL STORY