Food giveaway in Somalia resumes

June 22, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Four Somali women sat half-buried i a pile of American wheat in a seaside neighborhood, guarded by U.N. soldiers stationed on nearby rooftops. And, for the first time in two weeks, they resumed the job of giving food to the beleaguered citizenry.

"I was afraid to come today," admitted Kadijo Hassan Mohamud, a 25-year-old mother of four. "But for food, we must trust in God. And if someone kills us, then they kill us."

The food relief program, halted in much of this capital after the June 5 massacre of 24 U.N. troops and subsequent U.N. clashes with warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid, resumed this week. Yesterday, agencies opened six of their 20 sites in southern Mogadishu, scene of the heaviest recent fighting. Meanwhile, out in the vast countryside, a large, new crop awaited next month's harvest and aid work continued apace.

But the turmoil in Mogadishu and the United Nations' vow to crush Mr. Aidid has highlighted the vulnerability of foreign aid agencies here. They must rely on U.N. soldiers to protect their operations, but they also must maintain their impartiality in the eyes of ordinary Somalis.

"We've all tried to distance ourselves from what's happened," said Howard Bell, the Somalia field director for CARE International.

Like most international aid agencies, CARE operates from offices in Mr. Aidid's territory and it has temporarily evacuated most of its foreign workers for fear that they will become targets of Mr. Aidid's forces.

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