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Briefly: Africa

- - Wednesday, July 27, 2011

SOMALIA

Food supplements airlifted into famine-hit area

MOGADISHU — A plane carrying 10 tons of urgently needed nutritional supplements to treat malnourished children has landed in famine-hit Somalia, a U.N. official said Wednesday.

The airlift is part of a crisis intervention as famine threatens to spread across lawless Somalia.

David Orr, a World Food Program (WFP) spokesman who flew with the shipment from neighboring Kenya to the Somali capital of Mogadishu, said it is the first airlift of food aid since the U.N. declared a famine in parts of Somalia last week.

Mr. Orr said the aid would be distributed to medical facilities to treat the malnourished children.

WFP spokeswoman Challiss McDonough said this is first of several planned airlifts in coming weeks. She said Wednesday's shipment of peanut butter-based nutritional paste will treat 3,500 malnourished children for one month.

Ms. McDonough said the WFP decided to send in the airlift because of an urgent need to treat the growing number of internally displaced children suffering from malnutrition before their condition deteriorates.

She said about 18,000 children are suffering from malnutrition and that the number is expected to grow to 25,000.

The WFP says it cannot reach 2.2 million people in need of aid in the militant-controlled areas in southern Somalia because of insecurity.

MALAWI

More than 250 people charged with rioting

BLANTYRE — More than 250 people appeared in courts around Malawi to face charges over violent anti-government demonstrations last week, and a U.S. government aid group said it had frozen its $350 million aid program over the protests that left 19 people dead.

Protesters in the southern African country rioted for several days in three major cities over persistent fuel and foreign exchange reserve shortages and complaints of bad governance.

Witnesses said some protesters attacked businesses belonging to the president's political allies.

The violent response from President Bingu wa Mutharika's security forces prompted international condemnation from the United States, the European Union and former ruler Britain.

Officials said more than 500 people were arrested during the unrest.

NIGERIA

President proposes term limits

LAGOS — Nigeria's president is proposing limiting the president and governors to one term.

A spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan says the term would be extended from the current four years. Reuben Abati said Tuesday the president is "concerned about the acrimony which the issue of re-election every four years generates."

He said elections also are becoming too expensive to hold every four years.

Mr. Abati said legislators also should have longer terms but can serve multiple terms. The National Assembly will vote on the measure, which he said will take effect in 2015.

Mr. Jonathan was elected to his first full term in April after he took the post after the president's death.

Post-election rioting and reprisal attacks left at least 500 people dead and forced 40,000 to flee their homes across the country's north.

SUDAN

U.N. slams Sudan for refugee deportation

GENEVA — The U.N. refugee agency condemned Tuesday Sudan's deportation of asylum-seekers to Eritrea, which left one person dead and another one unconscious in the hospital.

In an incident on Monday, "two asylum-seekers jumped off the truck carrying them to the border with Eritrea," said the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a statement.

"One of them, aged 23, died from his injuries while the second, aged 17, is in the hospital and unconscious. ... Another four asylum-seekers were deported despite the incident, including an adolescent," added the UNHCR.

Monday's deportation was not isolated.

"UNHCR is deeply concerned over the recent increase in deportations of Eritrean asylum-seekers and refugees from Sudan," it said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports